The Lakers were less than dominant in Tuesday's win over New Orleans, but a win is a win, especially for this flagging super team. Late-game defensive issues aside, it was L.A.'s third straight victory, and comes after a hideous 3-11 stretch that seemed to be a season-killer.
Ordinarily, you'd be wise to temper your excitement. It's only three games, all at home. The Lakers have already had two other win streaks at least that long, only to then sink back into mediocrity, or worse. Now Los Angeles embarks on a seven-game road trip that begins Wednesday. The Lakers are 5-15 on the road, and haven't won away from the Staples Center since before Christmas.
If Los Angeles flops on a trip that includes stops in Phoenix, Minnesota, Detroit and Charlotte then you can pretty much forget about the playoffs. As it is, the Hollinger odds still have the Lakers with just a 0.3 percent chance of winning this season's championship.
Now that I've thoroughly killed your L.A. hoops buzz, we can get into why this is a seriously exciting time for the Lakers. Their season has been rejuvenated because they did something that on the surface seems obvious, but is nevertheless something that is very difficult for teams to do in medias res: They changed.