- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers went into the All-Star break vowing to play better basketball in the final 28 games of the season to make a push for the playoffs.
Now that they're out of the break, coach Mike D'Antoni has quantified just how good the Lakers have to play.
"I think everybody can do the math," D'Antoni said before practice Tuesday. "We got to get in the 20s -- 20 or up. You're not going to make the playoffs, I don't think, with less than 45 wins. You kind of count it off from there. You might need more, you might need a little bit less, but it's got to be in that area somewhere."
Going 20-8 to end the season would be a winning percentage of .714. The Lakers, at 25-29, won just 46.3 percent of the time through the first 54 games of the season.
"We need to make the playoffs," D'Antoni said. "We have to make a run. Every game is going to be extremely important. They were before, even more now. Historically everybody kind of ups their game a little bit and you try to make the last run. We're going to see if we can get it done. It's a heck of a challenge, but I think guys are up for it and I'm looking forward to it."
The Lakers are currently 3 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
"Hopefully there's urgency," D'Antoni said. "We've turned the corner 15 times so far, but we keep falling back into the same traps and maybe the urgency will keep us on the right path. No guarantees, but that's definitely our plan."
The embattled Lakers coach, who admitted Wednesday this has been the toughest coaching stretch of his 11 seasons in the NBA, said he was willing to make changes to reach his postseason goal.
"We're going to try everything," D'Antoni said. "We'll probably try to expand some guys’ games, maybe. Maybe throw a couple wrinkles in, which you always will do. Approach-wise, I don't know if there's something that I thought of like, 'Oh, this will work.' "
D'Antoni maintained that the Lakers' struggles this season have been less about attitude and more about execution.
"Chemistry will go back to personalities and I think those are things that are sometimes blown out of [proportion]," D'Antoni said. "Sometimes games don't fit and you just got to be able to fit the pieces together and make sure the ball's being put in places that people can feel more comfortable in what they do. We got to get Steve [Nash] more pick-and-rolls. We got to get Dwight to post up more. We got to get that ball moving a little bit so that people can feel better about their game. I do think a lot has been made on the personality side and whether it's blown out of proportion or there's some truth to it, big deal. On the court is where we're having problems with the chemistry."
In the last three full NBA seasons, the West's eighth seed has averaged 48 wins. To reach that mark, the Lakers would have to finish the season 23-5.
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