Los Angeles Lakers: Victory Tonight May Make Believers Out of Critics

Mike D'Antoni

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are 9-8 and are now in eighth place in the Western Conference after winning six out of their last 10 games. Doing this all without Kobe Bryant is huge for the Lakers, as they have outplayed everyone’s expectations to this point of the season.

Yet, no one is talking about the Lakers as a possible sleeper in the West. With the Portland Trailblazers coming to town tonight, maybe a victory over them will turn some of those haters into believers.

At 13-3, the Blazers sit a half game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the West. The Lakers have already defeated the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, but no one seems to care. Maybe a victory over the Blazers is exactly what Los Angeles needs to get on everyone’s radar.

I’m not saying the Lakers should be bumped to the top of anyone’s list as Western Conference contenders, but admitting that the Lakers are sleepers shouldn’t be that hard to do. Without Kobe, L.A. was projected to plummet quickly. However, the Lakers have stood their ground and have been competitive enough to earn a playoff spot to this point.

When Bryant finally returns, it should boost the Lakers up even more. By the end of the season, we may not be talking about the Lakers as a seventh or eighth seed. Instead, L.A. may be good enough to finish fifth or sixth in the West.

I tend to jump to conclusions a lot, but the way the Lakers have played this season deserves some attention and credit. L.A. is definitely a sleeper right now in the West. When the Black Mamba returns, if the rest of the squad continues playing the way they are now, we may not be using the term sleeper anymore. Instead, Kobe and the Lakers may just be considered a contender if they play their cards right.

Michael Pidgeon is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Rant Sports.com: “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter @1AndOnlyPidgeon, add him to your network on Google or e-mail him at black24mamba@aol.com

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