The Lakers, 35-17 and third in West at break, are better than anyone expected, and they have Gasol for stretch run. But much will depend on how well Bryant plays with injury.
L.A. Times: The Lakers reassembled Monday afternoon, their nine-game trip and the All-Star break behind them, but a 30-game journey looming in the future.
The team has ripped through expectations so far, pushing toward the front of the flock, but there’s that geographic issue of not being in the watered-down Eastern Conference. There’s really no rest in the West.
Only three games separate the top six teams in the conference standings, with the Lakers (35-17) currently owning the third-best record.
“It’s the wild, wild West, truly,” Kobe Bryant said.
The Lakers have 17 home games and 13 road games left, a scheduling advantage that might be more celebrated by them if not for the injury cloud hovering overhead.
Center Andrew Bynum is at least three weeks from returning from a left knee injury and forward Trevor Ariza is still about eight weeks from returning from a broken bone in his right foot. Ariza’s original timetable called for a return to health four weeks from now, but his foot was “healing more slowly than we hoped,” a team official said Monday.