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Thunder: Playing a dead team walking on Sunday?

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My gut says there’s no way the Lakers beat the Thunder on Sunday.

Ditto for what it says about Los Angeles making the playoffs.

The Lakers are a dead team walking.

Or are they?

Let’s take a dive into the numbers and the schedule and see what they have to say about the Lakers’ playoff chances. I mean, we already know that this is a team in free fall and disarray. There was a team meeting earlier this week for players and coaches to air their grievances. One of the things coach Mike D’Antoni said he was tired of was reading stories in the newspaper where players questioned his offense.

Ironically, news of the meeting was leaked out to, you guessed it, the newspaper. The Los Angeles Times first reported all sorts of details from what was supposed to be a behind-closed-door meeting.

Seems the Lakers can’t even meet without things going wrong.

Going into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Thunder, the Lakers are 18-25. That’s seven games under .500.

Seven.

That leaves them four games back of Houston, which sits in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

So, can the Lakers work their way into a playoff spot?

After Friday night’s home game against Utah, the Lakers have already played 23 of their 41 home games. That leaves only 18 contests on home hardwood, where Los Angeles has a record that’s only slightly better than .500. And frankly, looking at their remaining home games, it’s hard to see them improving that home winning percentage much. Of their remaining home schedule, the Lakers have six games that look like wins (New Orleans, Phoenix, Toronto, Sacramento, Washington and New Orleans), five games that look like losses (Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago, Memphis and San Antonio, though the Spurs will visit late in the season when Gregg Popovich could be resting every starter), and seven games that look like tossups (Boston, Portland, Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas, Golden State and Houston).

So, if the Lakers follow that recipe and go 4-3 in those tossups, they’ll go 10-8 at home the rest of the season.

On the road thus far, the Lakers have been abysmal. They are 5-15.

Yikes.

That leaves 21 road games the rest of this year. Of their remaining schedule — and maybe I’m being generous based off how the Lakers have played on the road so far — seven games look like wins (Phoenix, Detroit, Charlotte, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix and Sacramento), five games look like losses (Brooklyn, Miami, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Los Angeles Clippers), and nine games look like tossups (Minnesota, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, Golden State, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Portland).

If the Lakers win those tossup games at the rate they’ve won on the road so far and only go 2-7, they’ll go 9-12 in those remaining road games.

So, 10-8 at home and 9-12 on the road the rest of the way. Add it all up and that means the Lakers will go 19-20 in its remaining games and finish the season 37-45.

Look back at the past five years, and you’ll see that the average winning percentage of the eighth seed in the West was .582. That’s a record of 48-34. For the Lakers to reach that benchmark, they’d have to finish the season winning 30 of their last 39 games.

That ain’t happenin’.

Time has run out on these Lakers. That’s not just a gut feeling. That’s the reality.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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