With the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference clinched and their
first playoff opponent decided, the Los Angeles Lakers would
probably prefer to just skip their regular-season finale Wednesday
night against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers. Because at this
point, another injury is the last thing the defending champs
After securing home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs
Friday in Minnesota, it would appear that the Lakers (57-24) will
have a significant advantage against No. 8 seed Oklahoma City on
Sunday when the team’s are expected to open first-round play at
However, the Lakers have lost six of 10, and even one of the
worst teams in the West is questioning the defending champs’
ability to repeat.
“I truly think any team making the playoffs in the West can win
it,” Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes said following Monday’s
117-94 loss to Dallas. “I think the Lakers have lost their karma a
little bit, and they’ve lost their chemistry.”
The Lakers like their position atop the West, but with Jordan
Farmar straining his left hamstring in Tuesday’s 106-100 win over
Sacramento, there’s a potentially huge hole to fill off the
“We feel pretty good about what we’ve done, though,” Pau Gasol
said after scoring 28 points against the Kings. “We don’t like the
injuries and all, but hopefully (Farmar’s leg) won’t be too
Kobe Bryant has missed three of the last four games to recover
from a slew of injuries, including a swollen right knee and a
fracture on his right index finger, and he will not play Wednesday
in order to rest for the Thunder.
Andrew Bynum will also miss the regular-season finale after
being sidelined the last 12 games with a strained left Achilles’.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, though, believes the 22-year-old center
could start practicing Friday or Saturday and be ready for the
While the Lakers try to escape without injury in their final
regular-season game, the Clippers cap off another disappointing
campaign that will have them miss the postseason for the 15th time
in 17 seasons.
The team’s hopes for a successful 2009-10 were dampened a day
before the season started when it learned that No. 1 overall pick
Blake Griffin had suffered a broken left knee cap in the final
With Griffin sidelined the entire year and Hughes taking over on
an interim basis for Mike Dunleavy on Feb. 4, the Clippers (28-53)
will finish with fewer than 30 wins for the third straight year.
While they haven’t advanced to the postseason since 2006, the
Clippers remain optimistic of 2010-11 playoff run.
“Honesty, I think that with Blake Griffin and the five guys we
already have under contract coming back the team is very close to
being a playoff team,” said forward Rasual Butler. “We just need to
get a core group together and keep them together.”
Clippers point guard Baron Davis is not expected to play
Wednesday due to sprained right wrist.
If the Clippers can end their season with a second victory over
the Lakers – they also defeated the defending champs 102-91 on Jan.
6 – it will give them a season split after being swept each of the
last two seasons.
If Orlando loses to visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday and the
Lakers defeat the Clippers, Los Angeles will have home-court
advantage if it faces the Magic in a finals rematch.