Although, the Lakers broke their losing streak on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks, (117-107), they are still in competition with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
After suffering a 96-89 loss to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers at home on Sunday, the Los Angles Lakers suffered their eighth consecutive loss. It did not compare to what was said though by Lakers team member Chucky Atkins before the game that left this particular player backtracking what he said afterwards.
First-year guard Atkins made a remark about Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant when he was asked by a reporter if he was the general manager, what would he do to turn around the Lakers 32-37 record, which now has them in the tenth position in the Western Conference.
"I ain’t no GM. Ask Kobe. He’s the GM. It?s his team," Atkins said according to the Los Angles Daily News. "Last I heard, they told me that GM Mitch Kupchak was supposed to make the decisions around here."
Following the Lakers set back, the 30-year-old Atkins said that while the confidence and morale of the team is low right now, they were professional enough to begin pointing fingers at one another.
After Monday’s Lakers practice, the six-year veteran Atkins said that it was very possible that what he meant to say did not come out of his mouth. He did insist thought that the reporter that posed the question to him has been trying to get him to say something negative about Bryant for weeks.
Bryant has been accused of driving former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson and the most dominant center in the NBA in Shaquille O?Neal out of Los Angles last summer. Despite the fact that he continues to admit to the media that he did not have any kind of hand in the decision to get rid of two very important members of the Lakers three championships, Bryant says that he is the leader of the Lakers and that he supports all his teammates, especially Atkins.
He was pretty adamant about how it happened, that it was taken out of context,? Bryant said according to the Washington Post. "Everybody here sticks together. We’re not going to let anybody divide us. If you guys are here to stir something up you?re not going to get it out of me."
Despite the 34-point effort by Bryant, the second leading scorer in the NBA, on Sunday, the Lakers lost their eighth straight game. The eight straight defeat is the second-longest in team history since the franchise moved to L.A. from Minneapolis, MN in 1960.
The last time the Lakers did not make the Western Conference playoffs was back in the 1993-94 campaign when they finished the season 33-49. They lost their last 10 consecutive games to close out the season. Currently, the Lakers (32-37) trail the Denver Nuggets trail the red hot Denver Nuggets (38-31) by six and half games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
With 11 games remaining in their season, it is unrealistic that the Lakers can make a serious playoff push, especially with their upcoming schedule. In their final 13 contest, seven of those games are on the road against the likes of the San Antonio Spurs (52-18), Phoenix Suns (53-17), Seattle Supersonics (48-21), Sacramento Kings (44-28) and the Memphis Grizzles (39-30).
Barring a complete collapse by the Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves (37-34), the Lakers will miss the 2004-2005 playoffs.
"I think we have a lot better talent than our record shows this season, period," Atkins said. "A lot of people may say that maybe we?re not good enough to make the playoffs, but if you look at the beginning of the season, we were able to play with anybody."