Lakers 2011-12 Schedule Breakdown

The Lakers return to STAPLES Center for the first time since their Game 2 loss to Dallas on Nov. 1 against Oklahoma City to kick off the 2011-12 regular season.

VIEW COMPLETE SCHEDULE HERE

First year Lakers coach Mike Brown used the word “angry” to describe the mood he not only expected, but wanted entering the 2011-12 season, and with the release of the NBA’s schedule on Tuesday morning, Brown can now start to picture his team’s path.

It didn’t take Brown long – his opening press conference, in fact – to understand that only a championship will suffice with the kind of roster he has at his fingertips, and the first step towards that goal is aiming for the West’s top seed in the regular season. L.A. owned that spot in its two title years (2008-09 and 2009-10) but ceded it to San Antonio in 2010-11.

Here’s a closer look at L.A.’s 2011-12 schedule:

MONTH-TO-MONTH
November: 14 games, (9 home/5 away)
December: 16, (5h/11a)
January: 15, (10h/5a)
February: 12, (3h/9a)
March: 14, (8h/6a)
April: 11, (6h/5a)

Beginning with a Nov. 1 date with Oklahoma City, this is a fairly typical Lakers schedule of the past few seasons as far as balance goes; 12 of the first 21 games will be at home and nine on the road, just as in 2010-11. The 2008-09 campaign was also a 12-9 home/road split, the lone exception being the home-heavy 2009-10 season, which featured 17 of the first 21 game at STAPLES Center.

Hot starts have been the norm, as the Lakers opened 2008-09 on a 14-1 spurt, 2009-10 at 18-3, and rolled off eight straight wins to start last season before hitting the 13-2 mark on Nov. 23. Only 13 of L.A.’s 30 opponents in November and December made the playoffs last season, so the Lakers will again aim to burst out of the tunnel.

DAY-BY-DAY
Sunday - 19 games (14h/5a)
Monday - 4 (1h/3a)
Tuesday - 19 (12h/8a)
Wednesday - 11 (1h/10a)
Thursday - 6 (3h/4a)
Friday - 18 (10h/8a)
Saturday - 3 (0h/3a)

The daily breakdown is also fairly typical for Dr. Buss’s team, who always play a plethora of home games on Sunday (14), Tuesday (12) and Friday (10), while almost never seeing Los Angeles on Monday (1), Wednesday (1) or Saturday (0) when you’re likely to find the Clippers at STAPLES. The Lakers will, as usual, be on national TV quite often, with their Thursday night games coming against teams like New York (11/17), Miami (12/8), Boston (2/9) and Chicago (3/8) and their Sunday slate chalk full of playoff squads.

BACK-TO-BACKS
Nov 1/2 - OKC/@GSW
Nov 6/7 – NOH/@SAC
Nov 22/23 - @MEM/@OKC
Dec 8/9 - @MIA/@CHA
Dec 17/18 - @ATL/@NJN
Dec 20/21 - @IND/@CLE
Dec. 27/28 – LAC/@PHO
Jan 16/17 - DAL/@UTA
Jan 28/29 - @MIL/@MIN
Feb 3/4 - @ORL/@WAS
Feb 9/10 - @BOS/@NYK
Mar 8/9 - @CHI/@DET
Mar 13/14 - @MEM/@N.O.
Mar 20/21 - @HOU/@DAL
Apr 3/4 – NJN/@LAC
Apr 8/9 - @OKC/@N.O.
Apr 17/18 – SAS/@DEN

If you’re counting, that’s 17 back-to-backs for the Lakers, which falls somewhere in the middle (if towards the bottom) in the NBA. Last season, L.A. had the league’s lowest amount of back-to-backs, and fared quite impressively in those contests, going 10-5 in the first game and 12-3 in the second. This came after a 2009-10 campaign in which their 20 B2B’s were among the league’s most. As is typical for West Coast teams, not even one B2B is of the home-home variety, while 11-of-17 will come in road-road fashion.

THE LONG TRIPS
Each season, those same Western teams take at least two long trips to the East Coast and Midwest, and this year is no exception for the Lakers, who venture on a five-gamer in December and a six-game stretch in February (note to self: bring the oversized suit bag):

Dec. 15-21: @DAL, @ATL, @NJN, @IND, @CLE
Feb. 3-12: @ORL, @WAS, @PHI, @BOS, @NYK, @TOR

While such trips are never easy from a logistics standpoint, the Lakers have typically done well on the longer treks, which allow for some rally-around-the-flag bonding in the absence of distractions. Both trips have a mix of difficult playoff teams and others that struggled last season, though on L.A.’s long February trip last season, the Lakers beat four playoff teams (NOH, MEM, BOS and NYK) before falling to Orlando, Charlotte and Cleveland heading into the All-Star break. As ever, no games are guaranteed either way.

THE EXCEPTIONS
An underreported fact from each NBA season is that teams play four teams in their own conference three times instead of the typical four, meaning the Lakers will travel to two Western arena only once, and welcome two Western teams only once. This season, New Orleans (Nov. 6) and Utah (Feb. 28) come to STAPLES Center one time apiece, while L.A. travels to San Antonio (April 11) and Portland (Jan. 24) only once.

THE BEST FOR LAST?
Teams that look good on paper in July won’t necessarily be the league’s best in April, but L.A.’s last-month schedule concludes in fairly rough fashion, with the final seven games coming against 2010-11 playoff teams (@OKC, @NOH, @SAS, DEN, DAL, SAS, @DEN). The way L.A. could spin this potential tough road on the positive would be to amass enough of a lead in the West – utilizing a somewhat softer early-season schedule than many teams – so as not to have to win those final games. That technique worked like a charm in both 2009-10 and 2010-11, but Mike Brown certainly won’t take anything for granted in his first year in the big chair.

WHERE TO WATCH
Lakers home games can be viewed on FS West HD, and away games on KCAL 9 HD, with the exception of a certain number of the 27 nationally televised games. You can check the Lakers.com schedule page for each game as the season goes on.