Lakers face tough task the rest of January


Fun time’s over.

The Lakers had a laughably simple first half of the season, only nine of their 41 games against teams with winning records, though that trend changes quickly. Very quickly.

Six of their next seven games will be an intriguing mix of up-and-comers and already-theres.

For starters, the Lakers (30-11) play a designated road game Sunday against the suddenly relevant Clippers and follow it up with a home game Monday against the ever-speedy Oklahoma City Thunder.


Then comes a quick road trip next week at perennial playoff participants Dallas and Denver. That is followed by another game against a contender, Utah, at Staples Center.

The Lakers presumably get a breather against Sacramento before playing host to Boston on Jan. 30.

Then they can take a breath. January will be over.

“We will see the meat of our schedule coming up,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

The Lakers haven’t played Dallas, Boston or Oklahoma City. They also haven’t played Orlando or Atlanta, though that changes next month.

“It’s going to be good to see where we’re at this point in the season but I think we’re OK,” forward Ron Artest. “I think we’re putting it together.”

The Lakers are only 4-5 against teams with winning records. They might want to boost that mark if they entertain thoughts of catching San Antonio (34-6) in the Western Conference standings.

An armful of victories the rest of this month would definitely help them.

“We’re looking forward to it,” center Andrew Bynum said. “Right now, we’re doing OK. We still have to pick it up defensively.”