ESPN: So, can anyone touch L.A.?

The Lakers juggernaut kept rolling with a win over Sacramento last night to improve to 11-1. L.A. now rates as having an 89.4 percent chance of earning the West’s top seed for the playoffs, and a 57.2 percent chance of representing the West come June, according to today’s Playoff Odds.

Phoenix looked to be among the most qualified challengers, sporting a huge frontline that was built partly with the idea of matching up against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and posting some solid results in the early going. But the Suns were clearly outclassed by L.A. on Thursday, more so than the 105-92 final indicated — in fact, that’s probably why both coaches took the unusual step of emptying their benches as early as you’ll ever see (with three minutes left in a 13-point game).

And if not Phoenix, who?

As of today, no other Western team projects to win 51 games, and only one is within eight points of The Juggernaut in the Power Rankings. That team, surprisingly, is Portland, and while the Blazers are certainly young, exciting and ready to claim a playoff berth, they’re also suspect defensively and reliant on jump shooting; at this stage they’re also likely being overly rewarded for a 42-point win over Chicago.

Continue reading ‘Hollinger’s PER Diem: Mighty Lakers’