Lakers History: Looking Back at Last Playoff Win

Dec 7, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (37) receives encouragement from guard Kobe Bryant (24) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (37) receives encouragement from guard Kobe Bryant (24) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Fondly recalling the last playoff victory for the Los Angeles Lakers

In order to look back at the Los Angeles Lakers last playoff victory, one must remember the last time the Lakers were even in the playoffs—which seems like an eternity ago.

Truthfully, the last time the Lakers made the NBA Playoffs was in 2013. However, they were swept that year by the San Antonio Spurs due to Kobe Bryant’s late-season Achilles tear. Therefore, we have to travel back a year prior to the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers last playoff victory came in Game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Things were quite a bit different back then.

The spring of 2012 looked entirely different from the Summer of 2016. Four years can make for a world of difference in the ever-changing NBA. For starters, The Lakers were still relevant in the postseason picture. Finishing that season with a record of 41-25 (lockout shortened) under coach Mike Brown was good enough for the Pacific Division title and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

More from Lake Show Life

Their roster featured heavy hitters, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace.  Their bench was a bit shaky, however, featuring players such as Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Jordan Hill, and Josh McRoberts. Overall, this version of the Los Angeles Lakers was decent—not the greatest, but certainly not the worst.

The 2011-12 season was also prominent for the Lakers due to their decision to trade away long time fan-favorites, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Luke Walton. Fisher was dealt to the Houston Rockets for Hill, a reserve center, and Walton for point guard Ramon Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sessions became the starter at the point for the Lakers after the Fisher trade.

The Lakers opponents in this series were the aforementioned Thunder. No longer considered a team on the rise, OKC was prime for a multi-year run as a top contender. Their starting lineup featured Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and defensive anchor Kendrick Perkins. While the bench didn’t blow you away, it did feature NBA superstar James Harden, Nick Collison, and Fisher after he was released by the Rockets and picked up by OKC.

After getting throttled by 29 points in Game 1, Lakers head coach Mike Brown came up with a defensive game plan in Game 2 to have Andrew Bynum hedge much higher on Durant-Westbrook pick-and-rolls. The strategy worked for most of the game and the Lakers had the victory in hand. That is until the Thunder went on a 9-0 run in the last two minutes to steal the victory from the clutches of the Lakers.

Game 3 at Staples Center became desperation time for the Lakers, who didn’t want to go down 3-0 to the super talented Thunder team. It was in this game on May 18, 2012 at the Staples Center in which the Lakers got their lone, and last victory of this series.

The veteran club scratched and clawed to keep up with young and hungry Thunder. It took 36 points from Kobe Bryant and a double-double from Andrew Bynum to counter a combined 73 points from Westbrook, Durant, and Harden. The Lakers managed to pull out a victory of 99-96, despite the Thunder holding a 92-89 lead with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

At the time, no one obviously knew that this particular game would be the Lakers last playoff victory for the next four years (and likely longer). The Lakers however, shouldn’t have expected much of a chance in this series anyway. This game was their absolute best effort of the series, and it was only good enough to squeeze out a three point victory. The 16-time champs went on to squander another fourth quarter lead in Game 4, and were completely obliterated in Game 5 to finish out the series.

More from Lakers History

As stated, a lot can change in four years in the NBA or anywhere else for that matter. Depending on whether or not he re-signs with the Lakers, the only player left from that 2012 team is Metta World Peace. They’ve hired three different head coaches since Mike Brown, and have lost more games than they’ve won.

The Thunder too have changed drastically since then. After an unsuccessful bid at the NBA title in 2012 against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, the Thunder went on to lose most of its key players. In fact, the only players still on the roster from that 2012 version of the team are Russell Westbrook, Nazr Mohammed, and Nick Collison. Kevin Durant and James Harden are both superstars on different teams and the Thunder brought in head coach Billy Donovan after firing Scott Brooks last season.

Although the Los Angeles Lakers last playoff victory came over four years ago, things are finally looking up in 16-time World Champs. The team has placed its’ future in the hands of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and rookie Brandon Ingram. They probably aren’t winning an NBA championship any time soon, but there’s hope that they can win a playoff game before another four years passes by.