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Lakers' Playoff Hopes Fading With Each Loss

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Heat fans have been doing a lot of hand wringing as of late due to the team's repeated rebounding woes contributing to a few losses. But the Heat is in first place, something another team of superstars out west are nowhere near.

The Los Angeles Lakers looked to have put together what on paper was one of the best lineups in the NBA. The Lakers acquired point guard Steve Nash to run things on the floor and acquired center Dwight Howard to dominate under the basket.

Instead of putting on a return to Showtime or even just looking like a competent team on the court, the Lakers have fallen flat on their face at this point in the season. Part of the problem is age, another part is coaching, another part is a host of injuries, and finally the Lakers have a bad bench behind the starters.

The Lakers are currently 15-20 on the season and are in the midst of a five game losing streak. The team is 10-8 inside the Staples Center, but just 5-12 when it hits the road.

Historically speaking, roughly 45 wins are needed to get into the playoffs, though that can vary year to year. That would mean the Lakers would have to go roughly 30-17 through the rest of the season to hit the magic 45 win number.

The route to those wins has been complicated by injuries to Howard, Nash, Pau Gasol, and others. Howard and Gasol are keys to the starting lineup, but both have struggled at times this year with injuries.

Gasol has been out recently after suffering a concussion, while Howard missed time recently due to a shoulder problem.

It's not the way the script was supposed to go for the Lakers this season.

"I obviously think with time — and that might mean through the summer — we can get better," Nash told the Los Angeles Times. "But for this season it's definitely going to be a challenge to turn this around, to find the chemistry and cohesion, to find a way for the pieces to work together, to a find a way to get back in transition defense better."

The only problem for the Lakers is the window to get to the NBA Finals is very brief for the current edition of the team. Kobe Bryant is in his 16th NBA season, Gasol is in his 11th season, Nash is in his 16th season, and Metta World Peace is in his 13th season.

Where the Lakers have an advantage over the rest of the league is both in terms of revenue and with the salary cap/luxury tax. Past next season, the Lakers only have one player signed and that's Nash who would be in his 18th season if he was still playing.

The team is expected to make a run at signing Howard long-term, which would be a wise thing for him to do. The Lakers could then add one or two more max contracts to the roster before running into the luxury tax limit.

Not that the Lakers mind, as they have a multi-billion dollar local television contract to draw revenue from for the team. Still, adding just one more max player to Howard, assuming he matures on and off the court, plus solid role players could be enough to start another Lakers dynasty.

But, that will be in a few years. For now, Lakers fans aren't happy with their $100 million roster of stars who can't stay healthy on the court and can't produce wins when they have been this season.

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