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David
11-25-2002, 10:07 PM
Do The Math
Mavs' Start Puts Foes In A Hole
By Mike Fisher -- DallasBasketball.com

The importance of the games in November vs. the games in April might be weighted differently. But as the Mavs moved to 12-0 (now 13-0), the math is the same. So let’s do some math:
Based on last season, to make the playoffs in the West, a team must win 44 games. For Dallas to accomplish that milestone, the Mavs must go 32-38 the rest of the way.

Looks like Dallas is in.
As the Lakers straggled out of Texas, and using the same 44-win basis to be at least the eighth seed in the West, LA must go 41-29. That’s a .585 winning percentage, and assuming Shaq is close to being Shaq, that seems very doable.

To achieve a top-four seed – and the home-court edge Nellie says is absolutely key – a team has to get to 57 wins. The Mavs need to go 45-25 the rest of the way to attain that goal.
Looks like Dallas might be in there, too.

And for the Lakers to be a top-four team? Remember first that Nellie is on record with DallasBasketball.com as saying that not even LA will overcome being a second-tier seed because of the road, road, road disadvantage. (Know too that other Dallas basketball minds, including team exec Keith Grant, vehemently disagree.)

Now. …
To make the fourth seed the Lakers need that 57-win mark. Because of the 3-9 start – wrongly labeled as meaningless by the same mathematical morons who discount Dallas’ 12-0—LA must finish the season, starting now, with a 54-16 mark.
That’s a .771 winning percentage. And as my research man Tom in McKinney offers, it can't be done.

Simple math – the odds against any team winning 77 percent of its games (Sacto won the top seed last year winning 74 percent) strongly insists the Lakers will finish no higher than the fifth seed.
These games don’t count? Ass-kissin' Charles Barkley says, "They might be climbing the charts, but at the end of the year they are going to be Milli Vanilli." Chuck, do the math: Again, the best team in the West last year had a .744 winning percentage. The difference from first to fourth in the Western Conference was only four games. Four games!

With that small a difference, every game in November matters. And with the gap Dallas is creating, they matter even more.
To the Lakers, especially.

David
11-26-2002, 05:23 AM
LAKER REPORT
Jackson Thinks Big Picture
By Tim Brown
Times Staff Writer

November 26 2002

When the Lakers titled their season "The Quest for Four," they couldn't know four wins -- in more than three weeks -- would be such a test of endurance and perimeter shooting.

Fortunately, they resisted the urge to rename it "The Quest for Five," because that victory came only two nights later, and now, starting a three-game trip through Miami, Orlando and Memphis, they've won consecutive games for the second time this month.

Shaquille O'Neal is back, they've won two in a row and their offense doesn't have that Miami stink about it anymore, allowing them a moment to examine what it is they've done to themselves.

They are 5 1/2 games behind the Sacramento Kings in the Pacific Division, 8 1/2 games behind the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference, and no fewer than nine teams stand between them and Mark Cuban's renowned international scouting department.

About those standings ...

"Don't look at the standings," Coach Phil Jackson said.

Well, then, you should know ...

"Kind of know what they are," he said. "We've got a long haul. To think realistically about it, it's going to take us a couple months of playing really well to be back in the hunt, as far as I can see. I don't see anything that's going to be a quick remedy.

"We'll worry ourselves about that when we feel like we're starting to play well enough to chase, to be a factor."

There is another complication. The Lakers' nine early losses might also cost them Jackson's deft touch in the regular season. In three seasons in Los Angeles, Jackson has carried just the right amount of November-to-March disregard to keep O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and his veteran players healthy for the playoff grind.

Therefore, it was the Lakers who won dynasty-shaping seventh games against Portland and Sacramento, and the Lakers who lost a total of three games in three NBA Finals. The unassuming Eastern Conference helped too, but the Lakers consistently got to June on legs kept fresh in December, January and February.

This time, Jackson might have to drive them to get home-court advantage in the first round.

"It's not about looking down the schedule and knowing you're going to be able to win 10 in a row sometime in January," Jackson said. "You just play when you play and just see if we can't be consistent about that."

Typically, Jackson said, he strives for 85%-90% capacity during the regular season. He might require more for the fourth title.

"We have to reason with that a little bit too," he said. "We think we have to play at a little higher level than we've had to play in the past, perhaps.

"There's a price to pay for that. If you burn yourselves out doing that, chasing to be in position for the playoffs, it might cost you something once you get there."

TONIGHT

at Miami, 4:30 PST

Channel 9 (5:30)

Site -- American Airlines Arena.

Radio -- KLAC (570), KWKW (1330, Spanish).

Records -- Lakers 5-9, Heat 2-10.

Record vs. Heat (2001-02) -- 1-1.

Update -- The Heat is averaging 81.1 points and apparently will hang with New York and Cleveland at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for at least another season. The Lakers have won their last three games in Miami and are 9-5 there overall.


Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times