OAKLAND – So much for believing the Lakers could somehow scrap their way to a sixth playoff seed.
With their 109-103 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, the Lakers remain fortunate just to retain an eighth postseason spot.
The Lakers (36-35) dropped their third consecutive game and have only a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (35-36) for the eighth seed. Good news for the Lakers: two of their three remaining road games on this week-long trip include sub. 500 opponents in the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings. Bad news for the Lakers: five of their eight games in April feature playoff caliber teams. More bad news: the Lakers remain unpredictable.
It’s fairly easy to predict the Lakers won’t receive the sixth spot, though. The Warriors (41-31) have a 4 ½ game edge over the Lakers with that position.
Golden State took turns scoring, including Stephen Curry (25 points), David Lee (23), Klay Thompson (22), and Jarrett Jack (19). Kobe Bryant’s 36 points on 11 of 26 shooting hardly exhibited the ball movement the Lakers stressed all week. Pau Gasol’s seven points on 3 of 8 shooting still looks like he could catch up on his conditioning stemmed from a 20-game absence because of a torn plantar fascia in his right foot.
The Lakers also didn’t added more injury updates.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace suffered a strained left knee and didn’t play in the second half. Dwight Howard received three stitches to his lower lip stemmed from Lee’s elbow in a second-quarter play. Howard also finished with a quiet 11 points on eight field goal attempts, including two in the second half. Antawn Jamison scored five points and went only 1 of 5 from the field in his first game since nursing a sprained right wrist.
How ugly was it?
World Peace jawed with Lee in one sequence and parted ways by touching his hair. Howard drew a technical after fouling Lee in response to his elbow. When Warriors center Andrew Bogut scored off an inbounds pass with .5 of a second left in the first half, Bryant walked off the court.
At that point, the Lakers trailed 63-40 thanks to Golden State shooting 55 percent from the field. Meanwhile, the Lakers only went 35.6 percent from the field.
The Lakers still competed.
Steve Nash scored 11 of his 19 points in the third quarter. Bryant threw down a thunderous two-handed reverse slam. The Lakers went on a few runs to close the gap to 94-76 entering the fourth quarter. Bryant’s baseline dunk cut the Warriors’ lead to 107-100 with 37 seconds left. Golden State also missed 10 of their last 12 shots.
It didn’t matter with how the first half played out.
Instead, the Lakers walked off the court with less certainty about their playoff fortunes.