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Lakers closing out disappointing season
Two years ago, the Lakers at 30-41 would be out of the playoff race with just 11 games left in the season but they are now seemingly locked into playing the 9-10 matchup of the play-in tournament.
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1. Even though the Lakers have been trending in this direction for a while it’s still hard to see them as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference behind the New Orleans Pelicans this morning.
Two years ago, the Lakers at 30-41 would be out of the playoff race with just 11 games left in the season but they are now seemingly locked into playing the 9-10 matchup of the NBA’s play-in tournament mainly because the Portland Trailblazers and San Antonio Spurs have shown no interest in catching them in the standings.
The Lakers are 6-17 since Jan. 25 and would be lucky to finish 37-45, which was the Lakers’ record in James’ first season in Los Angeles when they missed the playoff as the No. 10 seed. The Lakers fired head coach Luke Walton after the season, said goodbye to president Magic Johnson, who abruptly resigned before the season was even over, and traded most of their young players and future draft picks for Anthony Davis. The Lakers ended up winning the championship the following season. We’ll see how this off-season’s rebuilding project goes.
2. So what does the Lakers being the No. 10 seed mean for their postseason prospects? Well, it means they will have to travel to New Orleans to play the Pelicans in the 9-10 match-up. Some would argue that the location of the game might not matter given what happened the last time the two teams played each other. The Pelicans beat the Lakers 123-95 on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles and outscored the Lakers 44-25 in the third quarter on their way to taking a 30-point lead.
If the Lakers lose that game, their season is over. If they win, they would go on the road again to face the loser of the 7-8 match-up between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Clippers. What happened the last time the Lakers faced either team?
The Timberwolves beat the Lakers, 124-104, on March 16, and the Clippers beat the Lakers, 132-111, on March 3. The Clippers led by 30 points in the fourth quarter and have now beaten the Lakers seven straight times. The Lakers recently snapped an 11-game road losing streak, haven’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 7 and have not won back-to-back road games at all this season. It’s hard to imagine that changing by the start of the play-in tournament on April 12.
3. The one highlight of the Lakers season has been LeBron James, who is tied for the scoring title at 29.8 points per game with Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and just passed Karl Malone for second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 36,947 points. James now only trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) on the scoring list and will likely pass the Laker great next season.
“I'm just always lost for words for it,” James told reporters. “It's an honor for myself, for my hometown, for my family and friends to be able to live these moments throughout this journey. And that's exactly who I do it for.”
If James retires with the Lakers, the top four all-time leading scorers in NBA history – Abdul-Jabbar, James, Malone and Kobe Bryant – will have scored their final points wearing purple and gold.
4. The must-read story of the day comes from The Athletic where Jayson Jenks and Mike Sando chronicle Urban Meyer’s disastrous year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are so many incredible scenes and quotes in the piece but one that will be of interest to local fans is his lack of knowledge when it came to some of the best players in the league.
“Multiple sources said Meyer was unfamiliar with star players around the league, including 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, Seahawks safety Jamal Adams and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year.
“Who’s this 99 guy on the Rams?” Meyer asked one staffer during the season, according to a source. “I’m hearing he might be a problem for us.”
Incredible. Read the story here and subscribe to The Athletic.
5. Las Vegas was once again buzzing during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament after March Madness was cancelled two years ago and took place in Indiana last year during the pandemic. The sportsbooks at Circa, Westgate and Caesars Palace were all packed but it was sad to see one of the best and underrated sportsbooks in Las Vegas, which was at The Linq, shut down and turn into a generic area for slot machines. Here’s what the Fan Caves at The Linq’s old 11,000 square-foot sportsbook looked like last year during March Madness.
6. On this day in 1994, Wayne Gretzky scored twice to tie Gordie Howe's NHL record of 801 career goals. Gretzky would go on to break the record in the Los Angeles Kings’ next game at The Forum against the Vancouver Canucks.
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule for today brought to you by Yaamava’.
4:00 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers – Spectrum SportsNet
7:00 p.m. Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks – Bally Sports West
9. Here are the “get in” price for a ticket on TickPick if you want to go to a game today.
Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks – $17
10. On Friday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we were live from Circa in Las Vegas for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and talked to Joe Arrigo and Michael Durate about the Raiders’ trade for Davante Adams and Dodgers signing Freddie Freeman.
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