The glow of the Lakers’ galvanizing fourth-quarter comeback on Wednesday still lingers but the next bend lies right ahead. It’s a big night for western teams on the playoff fringe. Houston visits Golden State, Utah visits Chicago and the Lakers host Toronto.
What does this mean? Golden State has a two-game edge on Houston, possesses a solid home record and has won two in a row. Utah has a weak road record while Chicago’s coming off a couple tough losses – they’d love a win before heading west (facing the Lakers at Staples on Sunday). As for the Lakers themselves, winning is absolutely everything – currently 1.5 games out of eighth. With the right combo of wins/losses tonight, they could be just a half-game back come midnight.
It’s been a story about numbers lately, written here, there and everywhere. And as the Lakers demonstrated on Wednesday, there may well be a new wrinkle – Dwight Howard says the win brought the team closer together and for a season marked by injuries, inconsistency and conflict, the statement could be more than just words.
Arash Markazi for ESPN brings MWP’s explanation of his support for Dwight (in pure Metta-fashion).
Kevin Ding for the OCRegister brings the power of Dwight’s positive thinking.
Mark Whicker for the OCRegister conveys another plot twist for Antawn Jamison.
Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll breaks down the Kobe-fueled comeback against NO.
Ben Rosales for Silver Screen and Roll examines a matter of heart in his latest Beast or Burden.
Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk looks at the math and says Utah should be nervous.
Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes, on the Lakers hope for complimentary figures.
Bill Plaschke for the LATimes on the right decision in keeping Kobe over Shaq.
For Sheridan Hoops, the Kamenetzky Brothers offer their Cali report – heading down the stretch.
Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers explains Dwight’s Posture Shirt.
Elizabeth Benson at Lakers Nation brings video of Kobe on Kimmel.
Max Piner at Lakers Nation has the pregame report for the Lakers vs. Raptors.
With just twenty games left in what was once termed a cakewalk season, the Lakers have a shot – to make the playoffs. This is where we find ourselves. Back at Staples, facing a team with a 9 & 22 road record on a night when the western conference schedule is as favorable as could be for a giant step forward. For Dwight Howard, another chance for redemption in front of a home crowd that wants to believe. For Steve Nash, he’ll be facing the team that most people assumed he would sign with during the off-season. It has been a period of willing reinvention for the 39 year-old guard. And for Kobe Bryant, there are no simple ways to convey what he means to the team or the city or the game itself. Tonight, he’ll take to the court once more, Sisyphus with a bad elbow and a glare, just looking for the win.