By Eric Pincus
6:00 AM PST, January 21, 2014
Just one game past the halfway mark of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Lakers have scant chance of making the playoffs.
With their Monday night loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers (16-26) are eight games behind the eighth-place Phoenix Suns (23-17) and 8 1/2 games behind the seventh-place Dallas Mavericks (25-18).
The Suns and Mavericks have already won their season series against the Lakers.
It's not enough for the Lakers to just catch Phoenix or Dallas in the standings -- they'll need to finish at least one game ahead.
The Lakers play the Suns again on March 30, but Phoenix has already swept their first three meetings.
On April 4, the Lakers will meet the Mavericks for a third and final time. Dallas defeated the Lakers on Nov. 5 and Jan. 7.
Injuries have derailed what was a promising start to the season. Kobe Bryant (knee) isn't expected back until February, way too late to make a difference.
With the ninth-worst record in the league, the Lakers do have a chance at a solid 2014 draft pick.
The players won't play to lose but a higher pick is better for the team in the long term.
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