Tough schedule could have Lakers 0-through-Thanksgiving


If you’re looking for the silver lining, Tuesday night was the best game the Lakers have played this season. They were in it late against Phoenix and only lost by six. Still the scoreboard is the scoreboard and the Lakers are 0-5 having lost by a league-worst average of 14.8 points per game (15.8 per 100 possessions).

That losing streak could conceivably get to 0-15 and all the way to Thanksgiving.

It’s hard to imagine on a Kobe Bryant led team, but a look at a tough schedule ahead doesn’t show many realistic wins on the horizon.

The Lakers best chance at win No. 1 for a while is their next game, Sunday at home against Charlotte at Staples Center. The Hornets are 1-3 this young season, Lance Stephenson has not found his groove and with that their offense has struggled, plus Sunday’s game will be the first of a road trip (Charlotte plays Friday at home then fly across the country Saturday). Still, the Hornets have a top 10 defense, they have Al Jefferson inside and Kemba Walker at the point. They are not a bad team.

Fall Sunday and the Lakers 0-6 record could easily grow to 0-12 or more, at which point it becomes a national story with SportsCenter talking about it every night and radio hosts (and some fans) nationwide savoring schadenfreude at the Lakers’ expense. Plus Kobe is not going to enjoy getting asked about it over and over.

Look at the Lakers schedule after Sunday:

Nov. 11 at Memphis
Nov. 12 at New Orleans
Nov. 14 San Antonio
Nov. 16 Golden State
Nov. 18 at Atlanta
Nov. 19 at Houston
Nov. 21 at Dallas
Nov. 23 Denver
Nov. 26 Memphis
Nov. 27 Thanksgiving

The games you see as most winnable in that stretch may be New Orleans, but that is the second night of a road back-to-back, plus Anthony Davis will destroy the Lakers front line (like he does everyone). Atlanta is better than people think (is Carlos Boozer going to stop Al Horford?) and that game is on the road. Denver maybe, their offense has struggled to start the season, but they are playing top five defense so far.

The first game after Thanksgiving is Minnesota at home, a game that is certainly winnable for LA.

This is the NBA and so on any given night the Lakers could pick up a win — Jeremy Lin gets hot for a night, Kobe Bryant just goes off and is efficient in doing it — but right now the Lakers defense is so bad that they need those kinds of exceptional nights just to be in games. Defensively the Lakers are not walling off penetration — teams have averaged 26 shots in the restricted area against he Lakers per game and are shooting a very high 68.5 percent on those — nor are they rotating out well, as evidenced by the fact they have allowed more corner three attempts against them than any team in the league so far, and opponents are shooting 44.9 percent on those.

All of which is to say, the Lakers need to find their defense and their energy by Sunday and pick up a win against Jordan’s Hornets at home.

If not, the Lakers losing streak could get into the teens and stretch all the way to Thanksgiving. It’s hard to imagine but it’s not impossible. And if it does the Lakers will be in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.