The Lakers are 8-1/2 games behind the Warriors (21-4) and trail the Suns (20-4) by eight, but the distance between them feels even greater to Charles Barkley.
“They’re not even on the same planet with the Suns and the Warriors,” Barkley said Tuesday night on TNT after the Lakers (13-13) beat the Celtics on the network.
This was all part of a debate between Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Barkley about whether the Lakers will wind up a top-four seed in the Western Conference.
“The Lakers are not going to be in the top four,” Barkley said. “I don’t care what anybody says.”
O’Neal and Smith disagreed.
“Let me tell you why they’re going to be four or five,” O’Neal said. “They don’t want that seventh or that eighth spot come playoff time. Matchup wise, they do not want Phoenix or Golden State in the first round.”
That led to Barkley’s “same planet” comment.
The Lakers are seventh in the West after losing, 108-95, Thursday at Memphis (15-11), which is two games ahead of them in the fourth spot.
The Lakers started 0-2 after home losses to Golden State and Phoenix.
Los Angeles hasn’t played neither team since but take on Phoenix at home Dec. 21 after a three-game road trip.
The Lakers will have to wait a little bit longer for a rematch with Golden State. The two teams won’t face each other again until Feb. 12 in San Francisco.
Last season, the Lakers finished seventh in the West after beating Golden State in the play-in tournament, but lost to Phoenix in the first round in six games.
The second-seeded Suns reached the finals and built a 2-0 lead over Milwaukee before losing four straight to the NBA champion Bucks.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Lakers ‘not even on the same planet’ as Suns, Warriors, says Charles Barkley