The Lakers start Week 7 with a home game Tuesday before starting a four-game trip that bleeds into Week 8.
Through 20 games, the Lakers have exceeded cumulative expectations by three wins.
Tuesday vs. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns (11-9) have been a surprise this season, competing despite expectations that this was a "tanking" year for the team.
Former Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe has been tremendous for the Suns, averaging 18.6 points with six assists a game.
Goran Dragic always seems to give the Lakers issues as well.
Like the Lakers, the Suns rely on depth -- with eight players scoring 9.7 points a game or more.
Kobe Bryant's return is vital for the Lakers this season but the team will stumble initially to reintegrate their star.
Pau Gasol has struggled recently, playing through a sprained ankle.
At full strength, the Lakers should be able to beat the Suns -- but they're not at full strength.
Friday at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder (15-4) are one of the top five teams in the NBA. Like the Portland Trail Blazers (17-4) and San Antonio Spurs (15-4), Oklahoma City only has four losses this season. Only the Indiana Pacers can boast fewer losses.
The Lakers are still in a transition period, but even at their best, the Thunder is a tough opponent.
While the Lakers have gotten wins through scoring depth, the Thunder got most of its offense from its top three players -- along with double digits from Reggie Jackson off the bench (11.6 a game).
Getting the Thunder on the road would be a huge win for the Lakers, but they don't look like a team ready to compete quite at that level just yet.
Saturday at Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats (9-11) have improved tremendously on the defensive end, allowing just 91.5 points a game this season with former Lakers' assistant coach Steve Clifford taking over the head spot in Charlotte.
Injuries have been an issue for Charlotte, notably losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a broken hand.
The Bobcats always seem to be a tough, tough matchup for the Lakers almost under any circumstances -- even when Charlotte was among the worst teams in the league.
The challenge for the Lakers will be beating the Bobcats on the second night of a back-to-back.
If the Lakers do indeed lose the first two games this week, they should still be able to challenge Charlotte on the road.
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