With Warriors surge, competition fierce for Lakers in Pacific Division
With the Golden State Warriors emerging this postseason, the Lakers may “win 50 games next and finish No. 3 in the Pacific Division again,” according to former Times columnist Mark Heisler at LakersNation.com.
The Warriors finished 47-35 this past season, matching up as the sixth seed against the Denver Nuggets, whom they dispatched in six games. Despite blowing a Game 1 lead to the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State managed to steal home-court advantage with a victory in Game 2.
Heisler gives some of the credit for the Warriors’ success to former Laker and Hall of Famer Jerry West, who is acting as a consultant for the team.
“Still living in Lakerdom, West now commutes to the Bay Area as a Warriors consultant. How in the name of Chick Hearn did that happen?” asks Heisler. “It’s simple. The Warriors asked.”
West left his role as general manager with the Lakers in 2000.
Golden State has shot 49.1% over eight postseason games, averaging 108.8 points a night. Stephen Curry has been a revelation at 26.5 points and 8.9 assists a game. Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes have combined to be almost indefensible from the perimeter.
In addition to the Warriors, the Lakers have to worry about their Staples Center roommates. The Clippers still need to re-sign impending free agent Chris Paul, their star point guard who helped his team sweep the Lakers this past season.
The Clippers (56-26) were knocked out of the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Lakers had a difficult year with a long, long list of injuries, finishing in seventh place at 45-37. The Spurs swept the Lakers (playing games without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Metta World Peace) in the first round.
Like the Clippers with Paul, the Lakers are counting on Dwight Howard re-signing this summer.
If both stars stay in Los Angeles, the Lakers will still face significant competition within the division.
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