With the Lakers win on Sunday, Los Angeles has forced their way back into the playoff picture. After a disastrous start to the season the perennial playoff favorite has overtaken Houston and moved into the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are seeded in the playoffs for the first time since December 1. The team has won 16 of its last 22 and is two games above .500. The record, while not amazing, is enough to put Los Angeles in a place to control its own destiny.
The Lakers win is the teams third in a row, and unlike the victories against the New Orleans Hornets and the Toronto Raptors, this one was not a comeback.
Los Angeles easily handled the Western Conference leading Chicago Bulls. The final score was 90-81. Entering the fourth quarter the Lakers had a 73-61 lead.
Leading the charge for the Lakers was Kobe Bryant with 19 points and nine assists. The Bulls’ Nate Robinson countered with 19 points as well, but it wasn’t enough. Neither was Joakim Noah’s 18 point, 17 rebound performance.
To compliment Kobe and his effort, six players on the Lakers had double figures scoring while shooting 45 percent from the field.
Dwight Howard, who recently promised to play better, finished with 16 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks. He did miss all five free throw attempts he had. Luckily for him those shots did not factor into the game’s outcome.
Even with the Lakers win, there are still areas the team needs to be concerned about. On a night that saw the team easily handle the Bulls, Metta World Peace remained fairly silent. He totaled 12 points and missed six three point attempts.
Metta World Peace played strong defense though, and held Carlos Boozer to 12 points, and four of 16 shooting from the field.
The Lakers win puts them back in the playoff picture, a place fans are used to seeing them, and a place Kobe Bryant is used to being in. More importantly is the dominance the Lakers have shown in their last 22 games, a sign that their first half struggles were just a fluke, and now the team is playing like they have been capable of playing all season.
Are you excited the Lakers look like a playoff team again?