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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Lakers title hopes may already be dashed

By ESPN Stats & Info

Even if the Los Angeles Lakers end their losing streak against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, history suggests the damage to their championship aspirations may be irreparable.

The Lakers’ current losing streak sits at five, which is bad news considering that none of the 11 teams Phil Jackson coached to an NBA title ever suffered a losing streak of more than three games during the regular season.

Only two teams since the merger have had a longer losing streak than the Lakers current five-game skid at any point of the season before winning the title. The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons (who defeated the Lakers in that season’s NBA Finals) and the 1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics each had six-game losing streaks during their championship seasons.

The Lakers’ most recent loss, Sunday to the Oklahoma City Thunder, only worsened their odds to win it all. Sunday was their 11th home loss this season. No Phil Jackson team has lost more than 10 home games in a season and gone on to win the NBA title.

One of the major weaknesses of the Lakers during their current skid has been their play down the final stretch of games. The issues have been primarily on the defensive end, where the Lakers have not been able to get stops in "crunch time.”

Opponents are shooting more than 70 percent from the field in "crunch time," which is defined as a five-point game with five minutes remaining or less. Adding insult to injury, in three of five games during the losing streak, the Lakers held leads inside of five minutes remaining in the game (held one-point leads against the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Thunder).