State of hoops in Los Angeles at the break
February, 15, 2013
By Scott Beaman & Ernest Tolden, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesThings haven't gone as planned for Kobe Bryant (left) and the Lakers, but Chris Paul (right) and the Clippers are riding high, currently in third place in the Western Conference.
The two NBA teams that call L.A. home are breaking new ground this season. The Clippers are enjoying one of their best seasons, while the Lakers are enduring one of their worst.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-29)
The Lakers have 29 losses at the All-Star break. Since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77, the Lakers have finished with 29 or fewer losses FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON 24 different times (82-game seasons only).
No NBA franchise has made the playoffs in more seasons than the Lakers since the merger, but after last night's loss to the Clippers, ESPN.com’s Hollinger Playoff Odds give the Lakers just a 28.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason.
Even if the Lakers do find a way to reach the postseason, it might not matter. They’re 1-9 against the top four teams in the Western Conference this season (including an 0-3 mark against the Clippers), and they still have four games remaining against those teams (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies).
The Lakers rank 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions (worst since 2006-07 season). They finished in the top six in this category in four of the previous five seasons.
The Lakers have also struggled getting back on defense after missed shots this season. They've allowed an NBA-worst 16.1 fast-break points per game.
In fact, the Lakers have allowed at least 20 fast-break points in 15 games this season, including in three of their last five games. No other NBA team has allowed 20 fast-break points in more than 12 games this season.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (39-17)
The Clippers, on the other hand, enter the All-Star break with 39 wins and a .696 winning percentage.
Their best single-season winning percentage since moving to Los Angeles came last season (.606), and since the move, the Clippers have NEVER made the playoffs in a season the Lakers failed to make the postseason.
The Clippers have been at their best in the final period this season. They've outscored their opponents by 118 points in the fourth quarter.
Only the Spurs (163) and Knicks (126) have a better fourth-quarter differential.
One of the reasons for that fourth-quarter success has been their lock-down defense late in games. They've allowed just 40.2 percent shooting by their opponents in the fourth quarter, by far the lowest in the NBA.
At their current pace, the Clippers would finish the season with 57 wins, which would make this the first 50-win season in franchise history and would eclipse their previous single-season record by eight wins.