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Oklahoma City Thunder: Lakers starting to look like the old Lakers

Written off as dead by most for much of this NBA season, the Lakers are suddenly showing a pulse entering Tuesday's showdown with the Thunder.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 4, 2013

Don't look now but here come the Los Angeles Lakers.

Written off as dead by most for much of this season, the Lakers are suddenly showing a pulse entering Tuesday's showdown with the Thunder.

It's a pulse that might just push the team with the league's highest payroll into the playoffs.

Don't laugh. It's true, no matter how comical.

L.A. makes its second and final visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 30-30 record. It's the first time the Lakers were .500 since Dec. 28, when they were 15-15.

Before Monday's games, the Lakers trailed eighth-seeded Houston by just 21/2 games. Utah, which had been only percentage points ahead of the Rockets for seventh, held an identical lead over the Lakers.

But the Lakers have been one of the hottest teams in the conference.

L.A. has won five of its past six games and appears to be building a head of steam in the home stretch of the season. If the Lakers keep it up, a potential first round playoff series against the Thunder is not out of the question — a far cry from two months ago.

“I think the Lakers are the most disappointing team,” said TNT analyst Kenny Smith in a conference call with reporters last month. “Here's a team that has four guys that are going to be in the Hall of Fame, and they have five guys, six guys who have been All-Stars on their team and they're the ninth seed, 10th seed … That would be the biggest upset of not making the playoffs in the history of basketball if they don't make the playoffs.”

Since slipping to 17-25 on Jan. 23, though, the Lakers have the fourth-best record in the NBA at 13-5 and the third best in the West behind only San Antonio (13-3) and Denver (12-4).

If the Lakers do indeed make the playoffs, it's possible they look back on their nine-point win over the Thunder on Jan. 27 as the turning point.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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