After having one lengthy streak end, the Los Angeles Lakers don't seem too concerned about their ability to extend another.
Losers of consecutive games for the first time since the All-Star break, the Lakers try to beat the Golden State Warriors for the 13th straight time Wednesday night.
Los Angeles (55-22) appeared poised to gain the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference while riding a nine-game win streak heading into Sunday's home game with Denver, trailing San Antonio by 1 1/2 games at the time.
However, the Lakers fell 95-90 to the Nuggets and 86-85 at home to Utah on Tuesday, and now trail the Spurs by 3 1/2 games. Los Angeles holds a two-game lead for the No. 2 seed over Dallas with five games left for each team.
Tuesday's loss was surprising since the Lakers had won 17 straight at home against Utah, which has already been eliminated from playoff contention.
"This was our worst game of the year," forward Lamar Odom said. "We didn't deserve to win, (but) we've had no problem bouncing back all year. We'll be fine. Our energy was just bad all the way around. ... You can't dissect this game. Nothing is there."
Kobe Bryant struggled to make 6 of 18 shots for 20 points and is shooting 35.6 percent over his last two games. The Lakers' 37.8 percent shooting was their worst performance at home this season.
Los Angeles had not lost two straight since a three-game slide Feb. 13-16. The Lakers must win every remaining game to reach 60 victories for the 12th time in their history and third under coach Phil Jackson. Jackson has notched seven total 60-win seasons, winning a championship each time.
Bryant owns a 27.7 scoring average while playing in 11 of the Lakers' 23 consecutive victories over the Warriors (34-44).
The win streak has coincided with Pau Gasol's arrival in Los Angeles. Gasol missed the first two meetings after being acquired from Memphis due to injury, but has averaged 23.5 points and 11.7 rebounds in 11 matchups - he's never lost to the Warriors since joining the Lakers.
The Spanish big man played through a bone bruise in his right knee Tuesday and scored 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter.
Andrew Bynum, who had left Sunday's loss with a knee injury, returned to face the Jazz and finished with 12 points and a career-high 23 rebounds.
The Lakers frontcourt will try to contain David Lee after the Warriors power forward had 29 points and a season-high 20 rebounds in Tuesday's 108-87 victory at Portland.
Golden State also got a big performance from its backcourt as Monta Ellis scored 30 points and Stephen Curry had 28.
"We're looking for something bigger now. We're trying to do something bigger,' coach Keith Smart said. "We're trying to establish a way of how we play, an identity of how we want our team to move forward, and that's what those young men are doing.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved