The Lakers lost all three games through Week 18, winning just 11 of their first 60 games.
They’ll play another four through Week 19, hosting the Brooklyn Nets (17-42), Atlanta Hawks (33-27) and Golden State Warriors (53-5), along with a visit to the Denver Nuggets (23-36).
Tuesday vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are one of the worst teams in the league, still “competing” with the Lakers for NBA draft lottery position. The Lakers are better served losing, to try and protect their 2016 pick, which will go to the Philadelphia 76ers if it’s not a top-three selection (as part of the Steve Nash deal).
Brooklyn has actually played relatively well over their past 10 games, winning half including their most recent two. One or two more wins for the Nets should be enough for the Lakers to ensure they’re no worse than third in the lottery (with the Phoenix Suns (15-44) and 76ers (8-51) still in the mix.
Wednesday at Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are inconsistent and will host the Lakers under-manned with Danilo Gallinari out with an ankle injury.
Denver hasn’t been a playoff contender for nearly the entire season, but they’ve played well enough to win 12 more games than the Lakers.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage for the Lakers on Wednesday is playing in Denver on the second-night of a back-to-back. Historically, teams have trouble in similar circumstances in the high altitude.
Friday vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were one of the NBA’s most dominant regular season team last year, but they’ve taken a step backward. At nine games above .500, Atlanta is still a competitive, playoff contender in the Eastern Conference -- but they don’t seem like they’re as strong a threat as teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
Atlanta has dropped half of their past 10 games. They’ll be looking to make up ground in the stands, still within reach of teams like the Miami Heat (33-26) and third-place Boston Celtics (35-25).
Veterans Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague will be a challenge for the Lakers.
Sunday vs. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State is still chasing the Chicago Bulls’ all-time NBA record of 72-10, and they have a real shot to get it done.
The Lakers aren’t close to the same level as the Warriors.