Preview: Lakers' Week 22 predictions

Preview: Lakers' Week 22 predictions
New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony drives past Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on his way to scoring 62 points in a 125-96 win. (Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

The Lakers got a win Sunday over the Orlando Magic, finishing Week 21 a full 30 games behind the first-place San Antonio Spurs (53-16).

Pau Gasol fell ill Sunday. His status for Week 22 is unclear.

Through 69 games, the Lakers have just 23 wins, three behind cumulative expectations at 23-46.

Tuesday vs. New York Knicks

The Knicks (29-41) are now run by their new president, Phil Jackson, but he won't be able to put his stamp on the roster until after the season.

In the meantime, New York is coming off a difficult loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers but have otherwise climbed to within three games of the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks (31-37).

New York has no first-round pick in 2014.  The Knicks are fighting tooth and nail to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile the Lakers are in a battle for lottery position with the Boston Celtics (23-47) and Utah Jazz (23-47).

Prediction: Knicks

Thursday at Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks (13-57) are the worst team in the league.  The Philadelphia 76ers (15-55) have lost 24 straight games, and they still haven't caught Milwaukee in the lottery standings.

One of the Bucks' 13 wins came against the Lakers, in a 94-79 win at Staples Center on Dec. 31.

If there's a win the Lakers are going to get before the season ends, it's on Thursday night in Milwaukee.

Prediction: Lakers

Friday at Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves (34-34) are still trying to fight for a playoff seed, although their quest is in serious trouble with a six-game deficit behind the eighth-place Dallas Mavericks (42-29).

Center Nikola Pekovic has been out recently with ankle issues, poor timing for a desperate franchise.

Kevin Love is leading Minnesota at 26.7 points and 12.7 rebounds a game, but the Wolves struggle most getting stops late in games.

Of course, the Lakers don't exactly excel on the defensive end, either.

Prediction: Timberwolves

Sunday vs. Phoenix Suns

The Suns (41-29) are one of the surprise teams in the league, but they've fallen slightly behind the Mavericks to ninth in the Western Conference.

Phoenix is a difficult matchup for the Lakers, with its fast-paced running game.

Guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are difficult covers for most teams — but especially the Lakers.

The Suns have too much to play for to lose at Staples Center on Sunday.

Prediction: Suns


Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.