Thirty NBA teams laced up Wednesday night, but the biggest storyline of the night was – as it has been for most of the season – tinted in purple and gold. The Los Angeles Lakers of ungodly preseason hype had waited until the last possible second to secure a playoff spot, but after the dust has settled, Dwight Howard and co. can rest easy knowing that they made the cut.
Los Angeles’s destiny was sealed earlier in the night with a Utah loss to Memphis, but the Lakers sure as hell made their last regular-season game of the year entertaining. With preferential seeding at stake, Los Angeles appeared ready to take the number seven spot away from Houston, leading by three late. But a timely (TSS-sponsored) Chandler Parsons three sent the game to overtime. The extra five minutes would only delay the inevitable though. From the point of the three and on, Los Angeles clamped down on defense, eventually winning 99-95. Pau Gasol was the star of the show, finishing with a monstrous 17-20-11 triple-double.
Playoff promise fulfilled #ontothenext
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 18, 2013
Now we start asking the question: can the Lakers win without Kobe? Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks are shinning with more shots to go around, Antawn Jamison is eating up opposing benches, and the Howard/Gasol combo continues to improve (when Pau is hitting that mid-range shot, it’s unstoppable). But, if you’re a Lakers fan, you should really be encouraged by their defense. Houston shooters were bothered all night, and passes were consistently knocked around by the Lakers’ length.
San Antonio is up next, and while Lakers fans shouldn’t be counting on mid-May basketball, this Kobe-less Lakers team looks downright competitive. That’s one sentence I wasn’t sure I’d be writing this season.