With all the press the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten recently, you'd think they were destined for the Finals.
The Lakers drive to the playoffs are the talk of SportsCenter. The comeback against the Hornets dominated the internets and even garnered a late night talk show interview for the one and only Kobe Bryant.
"It's about time we started playing defense," Kobe Bryant said of the "season changing" comeback over the almost-worst-in-West Hornets on Wednesday night. The Lakers rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to win.
OMG! Really? Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!
Except that the Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Hornets earlier this season. Let's not forget the Hornets are terrible this year.
Well, maybe the playoff-caliber statement is beating playoff-bound Atlanta at home last Sunday? The Lakers led most of the game and closed out a 1-point win at home.
OMG! Really? Atlanta is 10 games over .500! Only a playoff-caliber team could do that!
Except that the Suns had just put a pasting on the Hawks two nights earlier in Phoenix.
Let's step back and take a wider view.
It is ridiculous to compare the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers to the horrific Phoenix Suns who, for much of this season, trotted out a starting lineup of former BACKUPS to three guys in the Lakers' lineup (Dragic/Nash, Gortat/Howard, Brown/Bryant).
Surely the Lakers, boasting multiple league MVPs and future Hall of Famers, have been vastly more successful than the 21-40 Phoenix Suns.
Let's see here.
Games decided by 3 points or less:
- Lakers 4-4
- Suns 5-5
Games vs. West playoff teams (West top 8)
- Lakers 6-17
- Suns 6-15
Games vs. West top 5 (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets)
- Lakers 2-13
- Suns 5-9
And the Lakers are vastly better than the Suns how?
In fact, the Phoenix Suns just beat the Lakers a couple weeks ago in the nationally-covered "return of Nash" game, where the Suns executed what's apparently now called a "Laker-esque" 13-point fourth quarter rally.
The Phoenix Suns are 21-40 and fighting for the best draft position they can get.
The Los Angeles Lakers are 31-31 and fighting for the 7th or 8th seed in the West with an aging team destined to face a team they have no chance to beat. (Sounds like recent Suns seasons, right?)
Sucks to be both teams, no matter what Laker fans might want to believe. The Lakers are going nowhere, and those two unprotected first-round picks (2013 and 2015) are looking better and better.
If the Lakers miss out on the playoffs this season, the Suns get their lottery pick (likely #14 overall). If the Lakers squeak into the playoffs long enough to get swept, the Suns get Miami's first-round pick which is likely about #28 overall. Not a huge difference in a bland draft, but that's 14 more players off the board before the Suns get to pick from the barrel.
But the Suns never planned on getting a lottery pick this season from the Lakers. Their best hope was always a really good pick in 2015.
Still, it's fun to watch the Lakers squirm.
Though it's getting old watching them preen after getting "signature" wins that don't even measure up to what the lowly Suns have accomplished so far.