Turnaround is wishful thinking for Lakers

With a six-game losing streak, the season begins now, an optimistic Mike D'Antoni says. And even though the Clippers lost, Lamar Odom is beginning to listen.

Shaq was wearing a Dodgers sweatshirt at the Clippers game, enough blue cloth there to double as a Dodger Stadium infield tarp, and he was shaking hands with Manager Don Mattingly.

"That's a billboard on him," said Mattingly, who apparently didn't want anyone to know where he worked.

A Clippers PR guy advised Mattingly not to get too close to Shaq in a picture that was being taken, lest he come off looking like a bobblehead doll by way of comparison.

So much for the highlight of Saturday's Clippers game in Staples Center, although I did have the chance to chat with one of my favorite athletes, Lamar Odom.

But first, encouraging news about the Lakers, and something that should make fans a little more forgiving when it comes to their poor team.

Long after most folks had gone complaining into the night after the Lakers' loss to Oklahoma City, Coach Mike D'Antoni told the media Friday night the Lakers have been at a serious disadvantage.

Apparently unlike every other team in the NBA, the Lakers' season doesn't begin until Sunday, D'Antoni said.

"I told the team the biggest thing is our season starts Sunday," he said. No word on whether he told the team it's time to start playing defense as well.

D'Antoni also unveiled his strategy for getting the Lakers into the playoffs: wishful thinking.

"I'm an optimist," he said in explaining why he thinks the Lakers can suddenly turn things around now after six straight losses. "I think it can happen. We can play well enough to win. Yes."

I'm reminded of the fact that D'Antoni has already said that when he talks to the media, he lies.

But wishful thinking is good, like I'm going to start a diet tomorrow and stick to it. I believe that. And will believe so the next day as well when I really start.

"We've got to make a run," D'Antoni said. And we all know what happened to Mike Brown when his Lakers didn't.

"We've got one shot at it, and everybody needs to get ready mentally and physically and flush this down the toilet."

What a great giveaway that would be, maybe every Lakers fan in attendance getting a miniature potty to flush.

Beginning Sunday, as opposed to every other game played so far, D'Antoni said, "We've got to be ready.

"From here on we can't make any more false steps. That's just how it is. We put ourselves in this ditch, and we're the only ones that can get out, and hopefully we can get some guys back and start our season Sunday."

Asked if that made Sunday against Cleveland a must win, maybe the earliest must win in NBA history, D'Antoni said, "It probably is. We won't be mathematically out of it on Tuesday if we don't do it Sunday, but it's got to turn around somewhere and that's where we're going to make our stand."

Maybe that's even a better giveaway, Lakers T-shirts that read: "D'Antoni's Last Stand."

But then as Odom will tell you, everyone deserves another chance or chances.