By Shawn Clarke, NBA Contributor - Archive - Email
One for the road? Not quite
Take the Lakers out of Hollywood and they're under the even mark.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A conventional hymn in the athletes' book of cliches and politically correct phrases is "taking care of business at home."

Winning in front of the home crowd is always satisfying and leads to more crowds, higher revenue and a stronger sense of confidence when the schedule sends the team to foreign ground.

Playing on the road has been an albatross for some teams in the NBA, even the ones that are in contention for the playoffs.

No matter how it's sliced and served, winning on the road is more important than taking care of business in your own backyard. It's not complex to understand that teams such as Miami, San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago and Oklahoma City are bound to have a record above .500 as the host because the locals want to see them play and the entire atmosphere is tailored to the arena tenant's liking. The same goes for the rest of the league, but those aforementioned teams are the NBA's elite.

Take the Lakers out of Hollywood and they're under the even mark. They were able to squeeze out a win at Memphis on Tuesday, but needed double overtime to do so. The Lakers are one of the best at home and started the season with a 10-2 mark among the friendly faithful. However, they were also 1-7 in road tilts over that time and only avoided the worst start away from home since opening the 2002-03 season 1-8 on the road by winning at Minnesota's Target Center on Jan. 29.

The Lakers don't have a road trip more than three games the rest of the way, as they will visit Phoenix, New Orleans and San Antonio from April 7-11. Kobe Bryant is averaging 28.5 ppg in 22 road games this season while notching a 29.4-point average at home. It's obvious fans are getting their money's worth wherever the five-time NBA champion dribbles the basketball, it's just that his teammates seldom follow his lead on road trips.

Bryant's success on the road coincides with a portion of Bob Seger's hit "Turn the Page" in several facets:

Here I am

On the road again

There I am

Up on the stage

Here I go

Playin' star again

There I go

Turn the page

Bryant is always the center of attention for the Lakers, who are one of the top five teams in the West because of his services. He can't be the hero every game and needs teammates Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to help turn the page.

Memphis, Dallas and Houston are other playoff contenders that need to get their act together when on the opposing stage. The defending champion Mavericks were recently trounced at Golden State on Saturday and trailed by as many as 28 points, and the Warriors outshot Dallas 54.1 percent (40 of 74) to 37.3 percent (28 of 75) for the game.

The Mavericks are barely hanging on in the Western Conference playoff race and have dropped seven in a row away from Big D. They are 1-11 on the road when shooting worse than the opponent, 0-4 when the host scores 100 or more points and 1-7 when dishing out less assists than the home team. Dallas will close out the regular season with six of eight games as the guest.

Houston is currently right behind Dallas in the conference standings and has a legitimate shot at reaching the postseason solely because of its home record. Utah, Portland, Phoenix and Golden State all have a mathematical shot at capturing a playoff seed, but possess records below the .500 mark on the road.

San Antonio just started to find its niche away from the Alamo City thanks to an 8-1 record on an annual Rodeo Road Trip, but it could have been worse. Those away results were part of an 11-2 record for the month of February, as the Spurs bounced back from a 3-8 start to the road schedule.

There are a handful of teams in the East that are experiencing similar issues, including Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee, New York, Cleveland and Detroit. It's highly unlikely the Cavs and Pistons will make the final eight out of a possible 15 teams in the conference for reasons other than poor road ledgers. The 76ers are ahead of the other aforementioned clubs in the standings and are scheduled to be the visitor in nine of the last 11 games of the regular season. They opened the season with a 7-4 mark away from south Philly, but own a record below .500 ever since.

Philadelphia hasn't posted a winning road mark since going 23-18 in 2002-03.

The Celtics, Bucks, Knicks, Cavaliers and Pistons have all struggled to find success in enemy arenas and it could cost them a chance to move on into the postseason. The Celtics are the only bottom feeder in the East that has a decent shot at extending the season after 66 games regardless of how they finish the road portion of the schedule. They are currently in the midst of a grueling eight-game road swing and will play four straight away from Beantown later on from April 13-17.

While the likes of Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City are getting their fill no matter where the tip-off occurs, the others are left searching for scraps and ways to improve in all areas of the game.
The Sports Network, a STATS Company. All Rights Reserved.  home | terms of use | privacy policy | comments |