Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers Make The Playoffs

Ryan Cole —  April 18, 2013

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Kobe Bryant was right about his guarantee. The Lakers made the playoffs. He didn’t need to be present to see it happen on the last day of the regular season. Then the Lakers one-upped him, turning their good start to Wednesday evening into a better one, the equivalent of improving their hand in Texas hold ‘em. The Lakers beat the Houston Rockets in overtime, 99-95, earned a first-round playoff series against San Antonio and managed to avoid top-seeded Oklahoma City, a horrible matchup for almost every Western Conference team, especially them. So the seventh-seeded Lakers (45-37) begin a best-of-seven series Sunday at No. 2-seeded San Antonio, the team they defeated last Sunday, 91-86, and played well against in two close losses this season (by two points in November and three in January).

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: In a season filled with turmoil, tumult and, sometimes, even terror, the Los Angeles Lakers have ended the toughest 82 game season in my memory with a slightly different kind of emotion: Hope. In defeating the Houston Rockets by the final score of 99-95, the Lakers ensured not only that their season will not end with game 82, but that they have the slightest of chances of actually doing something with all the games that come after. Such is the importance of playoff match-ups, and such is the nightmare that loomed if the Lakers could not forge past the 8th spot in the playoff race. Forge past it they have; the Lakers will start the playoffs Sunday as the 7th seed, matched up against an old friend and familiar foe, the San Antonio Spurs.

From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: Last week, before the Lakers’ already nightmarish season seemingly veered completely of the tracks with Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles tendon, Bryant was still confident that the Lakers wouldn’t just make the playoffs but that they could win a championship. As he sat in front of his locker following the media scrum he said, “Look at what the Kings did last year. They got into the playoffs as the eight seed and won the Stanley Cup. We’re trying to do the same thing.” Bryant attended a number of the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff games with his daughters during their magical and improbable run to the Stanley Cup last summer and didn’t understand why it couldn’t be duplicated on the basketball court this summer. “There’s no reason we can’t do it,” Bryant said. “Everything resets in the playoffs.”

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Bad news for those Lakers fans who have chosen to scapegoat coach Mike D’Antoni for the Lakers disappointing season: He’s going to be back next season. That’s not my opinion, that comes straight from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, speaking to the Los Angeles Times. “Yeah, he’s back. I think he’s done a great job,” Kupchak told The Times. “There’s been no discussions otherwise. “He’s made adjustments. He’s been flexible. He’s evaluated how he coaches as the season’s progressed. He’s listened to the players. He’s very easy to work with and we think in particular since the meeting the day of the Memphis game, yeah.”

From Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports: Kobe Bryant won’t be joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason, but there is growing optimism Steve Nash will be on the court as early as Sunday’s playoff opener against the San Antonio Spurs. A strained right hamstring and hip soreness forced Nash to miss the final eight games of the regular season, including Wednesday’s 99-95 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets. The win gave the Lakers the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed and a first-round matchup with their old rival, the Spurs. Nash said he had two epidural injections in his lower back on Tuesday, which has begun to alleviate his hamstring pain. The Lakers announced Tuesday an MRI exam confirmed Nash is dealing with “several preexisting issues related to his hip and back, which are causing nerve irritation and contributing to his hamstring pain and weakness.” Nash and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak both expressed optimism Nash would be able to play on Sunday.”It really depends on whether the two epidurals work,” Nash said. “If they kick in, I have a good chance to play.”

Ryan Cole

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11 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers Make The Playoffs

  1. Lakers are 4-1 without Kobe this year I’m counting the Pacers game. The only loss is to Phoenix which is widely considered due to fatigue. No loss is excusable or explainable to the Suns but only playing 7 guys in that stretch of games gives them some leeway. It’s all dependent on Dwight’s defense, Pau’s playmaking and the role players making 3s. Kind of like those Orlando years. I don’t know if any perimeter guys can chase around Tony parker all game and provide offense but we’ll see.

    Dwight Howard in those games that Kobe missed drastically impacted the game on defense in the clutch. Against Pacers, Spurs and Rockets he was everywhere on defense late in those games. Makes you wonder where was this when Kobe is playing. Russ and Durant, Wade and LeBron, Kobe and Shaq, Kobe and Pau, Jordan and Pippen, Magic and Kareem all combos who find a way to co-exist and some won multiple championships. Maybe Dwight wasn’t healthy but it seems the weight of the world has been lifted off his shoulders the way he’s playing and in interviews. He never really meshed well on the Olympic and ASG teams with superstars. If he can’t play with superstars that becomes a problem in pursuit of winning a championship, unless he turns into Hakeem. I wish this Dwight decided to play with Kobe at his high level.

  2. so jordan hill….

  3. Obviously I love the Lakers making the post-season…and moving up to 7th was nothing short of sweet. But it truly bothers me that the Laker’s coaching staff (or the player(s) themselves) were not able to fully incorporate effective offensive & defensive schemes which take advantage of the skill sets of Kobe, Gasol, & Dwight when playing together. Just doesn’t make sense. They are all some talented.

    And the thing is we’ll never see that trio play together again for the Lakers.

    Going forth, our Lakers appear to have their preferred opponent. And I’m all in, Lakers in 7…admittedly a decision of the heart and not the mind. Go Lakers.

  4. Kevin_

    Its an issue of on court chemistry which can take time. An issue all year has been too many superstars, not enough ball, so that the team seemed to be below average when all of the big 4 were available. Still thinks its too early to say Dwight can not play with other superstars…He does, incidentally seem to be quite good with Pau alone and with Nash. And was off his game completely until the ASG, so we are really only looking at a sample size of 25-30 games.

    Incidentally, MDA named coach of the month for April. I am not enamoured of all the decisions he has made, think he deserves to share some blame for overusing Kobe and think he could have had just a bit deeper rotation at many times in the year, if for nothing else than to save the legs particularly of Nash and Kobe. Also think, the early comments re Pau were a major faux pas.

    But I am glad to see him getting some credit for what he has had to fight through this year.

  5. Last night’ game was reason to wonder how the front office will address this summer’s other multi-million dollar question: what to do with Pau?

    The cost of keeping Pau (should Howard re-up) would be sizable, many too sizable. But the rest of the GMs know that, so we’ll see lots of 50 cents on the dollar offers reported once the time arises.

    If Kupchak and Jim Buss opt to deal Pau, it’s a shame — even though he shot poorly last night, the guy can play the game in so many other ways. I hope he’s still around when Kobe comes back next year.

  6. The Lakers record without Kobe is evidence of how poor a decision it has been to not play guys like Morris or to expand the rotation. According to MDA, the Lakers ran Kobe into the ground because they could not afford to sit him for a few minutes a game down the stretch without losing must-win games, and yet the facts show that the team can win games in which Kobe plays 0 minutes.

  7. My friend in Boston emailed me this morning saying, “You’re the 7th seed, we’re the 7th seed. It’s fate. See you in the finals.” I replied saying, “7 vs. 7 for #17. Sounds about right.” I don’t think he caught the implication.

  8. Having Nash and his ability to penetrate and dish will be a huge asset. Hard to say what his conditioning will be like but with Nash free to create, I think the Lakers can put much more pressure on the Spurs’ defense and on Tony Parker in particular. Seeing how Blake has been playing, I really don’t see a problem with Nash coming off the bench to help the lessar unit. He might not be able to go 40 minutes at any time these playoffs, but 20-25 minutes could be huge.

    Such an interesting 1st round. Harden vs his old team. Lakers vs Spurs again, D’Antoni and Nash vs Pop and Duncan, again. No Kobe… I don’t like it but it’s interesting. Denver vs. Golden State… Lots of scoring, very good point-guard play. Something quite Nellie-Ball about Denver these days. There are going to be some prolific scoring results in these games. Of course Clippers vs. Grizz is a rematch both teams are relishing.

    I love the bracket the Lakers got themselves into with last night’s win. It is too much to as for OKC and the Clippers to both, somehow get eliminated. Having to only see one of those teams in the playoffs is way better then trying to beat both. With this Dwight, there is a chance.

  9. Post-season around the NBA: Derek Fisher has a pretty good chance of becoming the career leader in play-off games played this post-season. He’s current in 3rd place with 229 post-season games. http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/g_career_p.html

    Only Kareem (237 games) & Robert Horry (244 games) are ahead of him. If he appears with the Thunder in 16 games, it’s his record. Kobe? He’s in 4th place with 220 games. The only other active player capable of reaching 200 post-season games the year? Tim Duncan (9th place), currently at 190. But as Laker fans, we don’t want that happening this year, lol.

    So it appears Fish may hold this record for a few years.

  10. Fisher needs to retire. His best days are way behind him. OKC doesn’t need him. They got that kid, ReggieJackson from Boston College to back up Westbrook. That veteran leader business only works if the veteran can still play. Fish is tough, gritty and done, IMO.