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Don’t be fooled by Lakers current run

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The Los Angeles Lakers are 12-5 since Feb. 1.

Over that stretch LA has wins over Boston, New York, New Orleans, the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Milwaukee. Big games from LeBron James and Anthony Davis are coming on a nightly basis now. The supporting cast is stepping up, too, exhibited most recently by the 44-point, 9-assist night D’Angelo Russell had in a March 8 win over the Bucks.

The Lakers in those 12 wins have scored at least 113 points in each game. They’ve done it at home (7-3) and on the road (5-2).

Does the current run put LA in the list of contenders out West?

I don’t think so.

The Lakers are currently in a stretch where they play 9 of 10 at home. There are no back to backs in that run. LA currently is on a three-day break between games against the Timberwolves and Kings. Following the March 13 game in Sacramento, LA has another extended break before a March 16 home game against Golden State.

It’s a good time for a team with its two oldest players being its best. You beat the teams on the schedule, at full strength or otherwise, but it’d be lazy to not take into account the Lakers current extended home stay.

There are some reasons to believe LA may not survive the play-in.

The Lakers since Jan. 1 are 25th in the league in defense. LA on the season is 26th in 3-pointers made and last in 3s attempted. The most alarming stat may be this: over the last two plus seasons, LA is 85-82 with LeBron James in the lineup. Yes, it’s year 21. No, a team shouldn’t be this reliant on a 39-year-old. But it is what it is. Now rumors are swirling that James wants a three-year deal worth about $160 million.

LA isn’t winning the championship this year. The Lakers last summer gave Davis a three-year, $186 million deal. It’s not fiscally responsible to extend James for the type of money he reportedly seeks.

James, like his contemporaries Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, are defying father time. To paraphrase a great philosopher, there’s never been anybody as good for as long as James has been. He’s one of the five or six best basketball players of all time.

Signing LeBron to a pricy extension would be no different than what LA ownership did for Kobe Bryant after his achilles injury. Bryant in 2013 signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension. The deal led to some of the worst Lakers rosters of all time.

I don’t see LeBron leaving LA. He’s got too many business interests that are in line with being in the city. His oldest son, Bronny, is a freshman on the USC men’s basketball team. Bronny, a solid player, won’t be leaving early for the NBA.

There’s always talk of LeBron “chasing that ghost in Chicago.” Taking a huge deal wouldn’t help him capture the ghost. If LeBron is to even win one more title, putting him at 5, he needs to understand what has to be done for that to happen.

LeBron has been trying to scale back his workload for some time. Injuries to Anthony Davis and questionable roster moves have stopped that from happening. The Lakers need a new primary playmaker. Where do they find him? I don’t know, but that’s the quickest way to lessen LeBron’s load.

That’s if the all-timer really does want his load lessened. And what happens next with James and the Lakers will tell us a lot.

NBA Power Rankings
1. Boston Celtics
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
5. Milwaukee Bucks
6. LA Clippers
7. Cleveland Cavaliers
8. Phoenix Suns
9. New Orleans Pelicans
10. New York Knicks
11. Orlando Magic
12. Sacramento Kings
13. LA Lakers
14. Miami Heat
15. Golden State Warriors
16. Indiana Pacers
17. Dallas Mavericks
18. Philadelphia 76ers
19. Chicago Bulls
20. Houston Rockets
21. Atlanta Hawks
22. Brooklyn Nets
23. Utah Jazz
24. Memphis Grizzlies
25. Toronto Raptors
26. Portland Trail Blazers
27. San Antonio Spurs
28. Detroit Pistons
29. Charlotte Hornets
30. Washington Wizards

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