From, J.A. Adande, ESPN: However overdue it might seem, however fleeting or lasting it might turn out to be, it finally can be said that the Los Angeles Lakers are a playoff team. The proclamation comes by virtue of their 90-81 victory over the Chicago Bulls that was low in aesthetic value and high in significance, because it gave them a 33-31 record, good for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Kobe Bryant’s reaction? A low-toned, sarcastic “Yippee.” The truth is, he and the Lakers are pleased with the way they’ve been playing lately. They have won eight of their 10 games after the All-Star break, even if it has required overtime against the Toronto Raptors and a 25-point comeback against the New Orleans Hornets and this grinder against the banged-up, downtrodden Bulls.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: It took them long enough, but the Lakers finally made it to eighth place in the Western Conference. “Yippee,” Kobe Bryant said. And they’re two games over .500 for the first time this season. “We have to try to climb higher,” Steve Nash said. No, the Lakers weren’t giddy with delight after beating theChicago Bulls, 90-81, Sunday at Staples Center, a game that was part mud run and part rock fight. The Lakers (33-31) were so low for so long that they’d take a victory any way they could, regardless of how pedestrian and uneventful (read: boring) their game looked against the punchless Bulls. The Lakers’ $100-million payroll is paying off in March, which isn’t the same as June, but maybe it’s a start. They slipped ahead of Utah and moved to within one game of seventh-place Houston.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: This isn’t going to change anything. It isn’t going to change that Dwight Howard has a home in Bel Air (an expensive Los Angeles enclave) and is wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey this season. It isn’t going to change the reaction Howard is going to get when he returns to Orlando on Tuesday. But he is sorry. Speaking from his Los Angeles home, Howard told Sam Amick of the USA Today he was sorry for how everything went down in his exit from Orlando last year.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Too many times this season, the Los Angeles Lakers have picked the wrong time, against the wrong team, to have a poor performance in one aspect or another. They’ve played terrible defense against poor scoring outfits. They pick games against bad defenses to turn the ball over 20 times. They play good games against better teams, and bad games against worse teams, and very rarely has anybody played poorly against them. Make no mistake, there have been times in which the Lakers have looked stunningly poor. But, at least as often as they have looked like an abject disaster, the Lakers have been the unfortunate recipients of the worst kind of basketball luck. The biggest reason why the Lakers have fallen prey to that luck? They so often fail to take advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: A visibly annoyed Kobe Bryant snapped at Metta World Peace late in the first half Sunday for doing too much in setting a screen and was called for a foul. By the fourth quarter, Bryant threw his arm around World Peace as they sat together on the bench and hugged him. “Yeah, he hugged me,” World Peace said after the Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls, 90-81, for their third consecutive victory. In their past 10 games, the Lakers have exhibited more harmony than the friction that threatened this season early on. And these feel-good moments have resulted in eight victories during that stretch, a jump in the Western Conference standings and a whole lot of smiling faces. “I think the character of this team has really come together,” veteran forward Antawn Jamison said. “Instead of separating and pointing fingers, we have put that aside. We put all our egos aside and come together as a team and realized that we do have a special unit and if we put all of our talents together instead of against each other we can do something special.”