The Lakers start the month this Sunday (3/2) when they’ll get their first look at the new-look Mavericks in a matinée match up at STAPLES Center. L.A. will be looking to exact revenge on Dallas after they beat the Lakers in Texas 112-105 in January.
Next up for the Lakers are the pesky Sacramento Kings (3/4) who have fought off injuries all season long to play near .500 basketball. After three days of rest, the Lakers will tip off against their STAPLES Center neighbors, this time on the purple and gold home floor (3/7).
Two days later, the Lakers get another shot at the Kings (3/9), this time taking the battle to Southern California. With a day of rest in between, L.A. will take on an improving Toronto Raptors team that will be looking to get back at the Lakers after Kobe and Co. toppled them in Canada on the team’s last extended road trip (3/11).
That Friday, the team begins one of its toughest four game stretches of the season, starting with the Western Conference rival New Orleans Hornets in the Big Easy (3/14). The Hornets will be looking to take it to the conference-leading Lakers after they decimated them in their last meeting in New Orleans 109-80.
After a travel day, the team heads to Houston (3/16) to take on the surging Houston Rockets, now sans Yao for the rest of the season due to a broken foot. While many are writing off the Rockets playoff chances after the news, any game featuring Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady should still provide a fierce battle.
On March 18, the Lakers and Mavericks go at it again for the third time this season, as the Lakers continue their four game trip (3/18). With only one day of rest in between, the team heads to Salt Lake City to face a hot Jazz team that is an intimidating 25-3 at home (3/20).
L.A. then flies home immediately to face off against the Sonics for the third time this season, approximately one month after they cremated Kevin Durant’s squad in Seattle (3/21).
Sunday, March 23 begins the now annual home and home tilt against the Golden State Warriors, starting with Sunday’s game in L.A. before moving north to Oakland on March 24.
After a much-needed day off, the Lakers welcome the Charlotte Bobcats into town (3/26)—a team they have struggled against in recent years despite defeating them in Charlotte earlier in the New Year.
The team closes out the month against the Grizzlies on March 28th, before matching up against the Wizards that Sunday (3/30). The last time the Grizzlies were in town, Pau Gasol was still on their team and Memphis still represented a small threat. Flash forward two months and the Grizzlies pose little danger to ending the Lakers’ month on a down note.
While the Lakers are optimistic that Andrew Bynum will return at some point in March, their recent play has proved that they don’t necessarily need his presence against the league’s softer teams.
Although on paper, L.A. plays one of their toughest stretches of the season when they face New Orleans, Houston, Dallas and Utah in consecutive road games, none of those games come on back-to-back nights.
Whereas February brought only one marquee game—against Phoenix—March will be filled with statement games as the Lakers and the rest of the league gear up for what could be one of the NBA’s most competitive finishes in history. Even if their March doesn’t quite compete with their historic February, expect no worse than an 11-5 record.