The Lakers’ Magic Number Is Eight, Not 16

For this year’s version of the Lakers, forget about the number 16 in the playoffs (the amount of victories a team needs to take the NBA title), the important number is eight.

That is the number of nearly healthy bodies they need to even think about getting to the Western Conference title series let alone the NBA Finals.

Right now the Lakers have about half that number.

Observers have commented that the Lakers are limping into the playoffs.  That isn’t quite true.  They are not limping; they are being wheeled in on a stretcher. 

As for their defense, it has gone comatose and should be in intensive care.

Among the regular starters, the Lakers have only two players—Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol—who are nearly a hundred percent.

Among the fairly healthy reserves, there is Shannon Brown, a sometime starter, along with Josh Powell, Adam Morrison, and D. J. Mbenga.  The latter two have seen little playing time this year, and Powell has shown a great deal of inconsistency when he gets into a game.

The injured starters who are still nursing their wounds include Kobe Bryant (ankle, knee, and fingers), Ron Artest (a mild ankle sprain), and Andrew Bynum (a strained Achilles’ tendon).

Among the front-line reserves that normally see significant playing time, Jordan Farmar has a strained hamstring, Lamar Odom is nursing a sore shoulder, and Luke Walton had surgery to repair a nerve in his back several months ago.  Last night, his back stiffened up again in the final regular season game against the Clippers.

Even worse than Walton’s stiff back is the injury to reserve guard Sasha Vujacic who suffered a severe high ankle sprain in the second quarter of last night’s regular season finale with the Clippers.

The Vujacic injury is perhaps the most significant of all, considering that Farmar strained his h...

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