From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: For the briefest of moments, it was there: Hope. The belief that the Lakers had tricks up their sleeve that had not yet been revealed. For 9 glorious minutes, as the Lakers took the court against the Los Angeles Clippers, they did something previously thought to be impossible. They defended well, as a team, together. Not Dwight Howard changing shots. Not getting a couple of missed shots that lead to a big run. Just good, solid, team defense, with rotations at the proper time and to the proper place. It was a sight to behold. It was also short-lived. By the end of the first quarter, the Lakers had 6 turnovers and the Clippers were in the midst of hitting 10 straight shots, including a few threes, and the game was all but over. In the 2nd half, the 7 man rotation the Lakers have been working with of late ensured that there was little hope of any kind of grand comeback, and the Clippers kept the Lakers at arm’s length the rest of the way.
From Mark Heisler, Lakers Nation: Was this the Lakers’ playoffs? Or what if the Clippers drilled the Lakes—again–this time by 109-95—to record their first sweep over you… and they barely noticed? “For the first time ever you’ve been swept by the Clippers,” someone said to Kobe Bryant. “How frustrating is that?” Apparently not very much. Bryant paused, grinned, said wearily, “Man, we we got a bigger challenge to worry about than beating the Clippers one game.” And those were the good, old days, so to speak, around 4 p.m. Sunday with the Lakers still No. 8 in the West. About three hours later, the Jazz upset the Warriors in Oakland and the Lakers’ challenge was even bigger, going from a half-game ahead of Utah to a half-game behind… which is effectively 1.5 games with the Jazz having won the season series.
From Arash Markaz, ESPN LA: Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace said he will start Tuesday night when the Lakers play the New Orleans Hornets, just 12 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee that was supposed to sideline him at least six weeks. World Peace participated in a three-on-three scrimmage at practice Monday, and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said there was a 90 percent chance World Peace would play Tuesday. “He’s good,” D’Antoni said. “It’s probably a game-time decision, but he looks good. He’s raring to go. The medical staff will make a decision tomorrow. It’s unbelievable. He’s different. … I’ve never seen this before.”
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: If ever there’s a time for the Lakers to sweep a back-to-back set, it’s now. Age and injuries could always be blamed, but inconsistency would be the biggest, saddest mark of a team that hasn’t won on back-to-back days this season. “It’s a good time to start,” Kobe Bryant said Monday. The Lakers have never gone a whole season without sweeping a back-to-back series in their 64-year history. Even their worst team, the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers who finished 19-53, managed to nail a back-to-back. The maligned present-day Lakers (40-37) play host to New Orleans on Tuesday and then are at Portland, their personal haunted mansion, on Wednesday. In the mess that this season has become, a surprising bit of positive injury news trickled out of the Lakers’ medical flies Monday.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Such is the depth of the hole the Lakers have dug themselves — even in the sprint to the finish to get the eighth and final playoff spot in the West Los Angeles does not control its own destiny. Utah is the team in the driver’s seat. Win out their remaining four games and the Jazz head to the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how many points Kobe Bryant scores or how fast Metta World Peace comes back from injury, if the Jazz win out the Lakers can do no better than tie and Utah has the tie breaker (they won the season series). The Lakers still have a chance, but they likely need to go at least 4-1 in their last five to get there. They may need to win out. And their schedule is anything but easy.