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Lakers continue to build chemistry, move into the playoff picture with win over Bulls

Mar 10, 2013, 6:03 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Steve Nash of Canada intervenes as Kobe Bryant berates Metta World Peace for committing a foul during their NBA game in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — It’s been a long time in the making, and there’s plenty more work to be done over the regular season’s final 18 games. But for the first time all year, the Lakers can look at the standings and see themselves as an official part of the playoff picture after Sunday’s 90-81 win over the Bulls at Staples Center.

The Lakers are now 33-31 on the season, and sit in the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz.

In Friday night’s win over the Raptors, the Lakers needed several shots that were both miraculous and heroic from Kobe Bryant down the stretch to come back and get the overtime victory. They didn’t need much from him offensively in this one, however, thanks to a balanced attack and a strong third quarter from Steve Nash, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the period.

Bryant didn’t even reach double figures in scoring until he hit a three-pointer with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter, which pushed the Lakers lead to 15. He finished with a team-high 19 points, to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists, while five of his teammates finished in double digits.

The Bulls are not known for their offense, and struggled to score in this one. Chicago shot a dismal 37.1 percent from the field, and went just 4-16 from three-point distance. But the defensive effort from the Lakers was stronger than usual, led by an increasingly more active Dwight Howard, whose 21 rebounds helped L.A. dominate the Bulls on the glass for most of the contest.

Chicago was able to cut a lead that once reached 18 points down to eight with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth, but the Lakers responded by scoring the next five points, while holding the Bulls scoreless for the next three and a half minutes.

More important than this single game victory and the temporary playoff position that it earned the Lakers is the improved chemistry the team is showing on the court. The communication was constant in this one defensively, with players giving their all on loose ball and rebound opportunities, while the body language overall was genuinely positive. The change from the way these guys interacted with each other in the opening months of the season is both noticeable and substantial.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some bumps along the way — Bryant was furious with Metta World Peace at the end of the first half, after he committed an offensive foul while Bryant was dribbling down the clock to get off a final shot. He yelled at Metta as the two walked back down the floor, but all was forgiven later when Bryant was seen with his arm around his teammate on the bench early in the fourth.

The extent of how much Howard can improve from a health standpoint as the Lakers close out the regular season, along with the amount of chemistry the team can continue to build during that time will largely determine its postseason fate.

Winning can cure a lot of issues, and certainly helps the team-building a lot more than it hurts. At least after Sunday’s victory, L.A. can now, if only briefly, officially see itself as part of the playoff picture.

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    They’re coming…

    • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Coming where ? They will get Smashed in the Playoffs. They can’t beat the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets, Grizzlies in a Series.

    • tsi431 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:18 AM

      They only get better when all star Pau Gasol returns healthy. The Lakers bench is stepping up and will only get better when he (Gasol) returns. That will be the difference maker against the Thunder, Spurs,Clippers, Nuggets, and Grizzlies.

  2. iamjimmyjack - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Lakers baby! I think the 6 seed is entirely possible. Even the haters know that no one wants to see the lakers come playoff time..except maybe the thunder and the spurs. So if the lakers can somehow get that 6 spot, the western conference finals is not out of the picture. I’m not read to say they can win the championship yet but who knows what can happen. The lakers started the same way in 02-03 before they went on to three peat. Anything is possible. Go lakers!

    • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      Lmao. The lakers Scrapped by two Awful teams in the Hornets and Raptors and beat a Banged up Bulls team and now they think they can compete with the Big dogs in the West. Lmao I can always rely on delusional Laker fans to Make me Laugh.

      • bozosforall - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:22 PM

        Poor crybaby Baltimore fan. Your football team wins a title yet you can’t let go of your jealousy of the Lakers. Even more pathetic than loser Boston fans.

      • badintent - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:17 AM

        A BOZOFOR ALL SIGHTING ! crawled out from under your bed , did ya ? Nice to hear from your bandwagon butt now, We all thought that you had jumped on the Clippers bandwagon long ago. Keep your comic books near, don’t want you to get confused on who’s Superman .

      • gmsingh - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM

        I have to laugh, too, by the way that Brent “reported” the Bulls 3 point shooting, but didn’t seem to mention the Lakers’, which is one of the worst performances from the 3 point line I’ve ever seen.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:10 AM

        this is the same type of dope who several weeks ago was screaming the Lakers don’t even make it to the playoffs…now that they look like they have a great chance…its all about getting plowed in the the 1st round. dude, when you pick a battle…stick with it. right or wrong, own up to your errors.

    • bballhistorian - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:18 AM

      uhh, in 02-03 the lakers lost to the spurs in the playoffs (spurs were ’03 champs).

      • manchestermiracle - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        Yeah, I think he meant ’01-’02 based on the three-peat reference, but I’m not sure how he’s comparing that year to now. The Lakers were 2nd in the Pacific, but actually had a slightly better record than the year before when they were 1st. The Lakers started out 16-1 in ’01, a franchise record and nothing at all like this year. And in ’02 they were the #3 seed, hardly attainable this year. I’m reminded of Animal House: “Let it go, he’s on a roll.”

  3. asimonetti88 - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Dwight and Nash both played really well. They’re starting to settle into their roles and they’ve looked pretty good over the last couple games.

  4. purplekobra69 - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    If they get the 7th or 8th seed it’s bye bye
    in the first round. However if they can
    continue to play this way and possibly
    get a 6th seed or higher, who knows.

    • mytthor - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:40 PM

      No way the Lakers fear the Spurs. No way.

      • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:39 PM

        And Nobody Fears the Lakers. They are old, horrible on the road and Cant play defense.

      • 00maltliquor - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:29 AM

        Enjoy that Flacco contract, buddy! ^

      • mytthor - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        You have capitalization tourette’s.

      • chainbuzz - Mar 12, 2013 at 1:43 AM

        Old, horrible and can’t play defense? That sounds like the 2013 Ravens.

  5. ckinthekc99 - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    The Spurs do not scare the Lakers, in fact The Lakers will be favored in any matchup in first round not named Thunder

    • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      hahahahaha. The Lakers don’t scare my Spurs. The Lakers are trash.

      • mytthor - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        Keep dreamin

  6. fruitcovejag - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    It’s difficult to watch the Bulls because they are SO offensively inept. They still play hard (defense, hustle) but they just can’t score! Even still, it was a good win for the Lakers.

    • lmoneyfresh - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      It’s almost like they have a bunch of players hurt or something.

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        I think they look gassed, Noah complained a while back about
        being tired and coach running them hard. In the fourth quarter
        Noah looked like he was pulling a load.

        Lakers are rolling, they need the 6th seed at worst.
        I don’t know how many teams would say they want
        a match up with Kobe. He threw some nice passes
        to D-12 down low.

  7. lakerluver - Mar 10, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    This team is finally starting to play to its potential. They’re going to be very good if Pau can come back and contribute like he had begun to before he got hurt. Will it be good enough to do some damage in the playoffs? Maybe not, but we shall see!!
    Dwight was the beast today that he’s been his entire career. Obviously, he’s getting healthier.

  8. Jeff - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Only the Lakers could get this much press from being mediocre team.

  9. kb2408 - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    @Jeff,
    the Lakers get this much press because they’re the premier franchise in the NBA and arguably in all of sports. See, this is what happens when a franchise wins a title almost every 3 or 4 years. In fact, it’s news when the Lakers DON’T win a title. Other franchises are just flashes in the pan compared to the Lakers. Sure, the Spurs had their little run. Now the Heat are having theirs. But neither will have the sustained level of excellence that the Lakers have had for the better part of 3 DECADES. Accept it and deal with it.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      maybe Jeff is a scorned Orlando fan, all he
      knows is his franchise Centers leaving for
      Purple & Gold.

    • loungefly74 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      please kb2408…don’t hurt ‘em!

      yes…yes…well said, sir. it seems like trolls need to be reminded of this every now and then. the premeire franchise…the jewel of the NBA…yes…that is and will always be the Lakers. important to mention 3 decades….why 3 decades (asks a lot of Boston fans?)…well…that is the start of the modern era.

  10. mrlitl - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    well said kb

  11. onelildude - Mar 10, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    I don’t think the Spurs,Thunder or Clippers are scared of the Lakers, but no ones wants them in the 1st round. It makes the road that much tougher

    • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      Not really. The Lakers are Terrible on the road. They aren’t a good defensive team. Any team with a Good Point Guard will give them Problems. Plus they cant defend at all on the Perimeter. They would get destroyed in the first round.

      • mazblast - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        Depends on whether Little Caesar wants the Lakers to win. If he does, it’ll happen. If he doesn’t care, they won’t.

  12. themagicfanguy - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    @kb2408 So the team with the second most titles is the premiere franchise now? You’re delusional.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:22 AM

      wow, they have 1 more title, clearly they are superior.

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:24 AM

        Lakers 16- Magic, zip, zero, zilch.
        Magic lead in Centers leaving for LA- 2-0
        WTF, would argue Magic vs Lakers, crazy magic fan

    • themars211 - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      Hey your team is named after a Laker legend…..Earvin “Magic” Johnson!! LMAO

  13. kb2408 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    @themagicfanguy
    if you want to say the Lakers are second to the Celtics, that’s fine. But the vast majority of Celtic titles came in the golden age of black and white television. From the time the great Larry Legend retired until now the C’s have exactly one title. The Celtics glory days are ancient history. But if you want to hold on to that be my guest.

    • loungefly74 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      dang…pretty much said the same thing without even seeing this…nice.

      kb…haters will always come up with an excuse…shame on them…and their pathetic existence.

  14. sunsation3413 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Only Lakers fans can be so giddy over a possible 8th seed. They dont stand a chance to win anything this year or next year or the year after. Kobe has all the rings he is going to get. He can thank Lebron and KD for that!

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      I can think of 14 other teams’ fans that would be giddy over the 8th seed as well. If the season ended today, the Lakers would be in the playoffs, and the playoffs are a different game. Everyone had them missing the playoffs just a few weeks ago, so it’s not time to write the obituary on this season yet.

  15. money2long - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    go LA
    go LA
    go !

  16. ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Lakers fans are Delusional. They are a First Round Exit. They can’t beat the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets in a Series.

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Repeat yourself much? You sound a lot like someone chanting a mantra hoping the repetition will make it so.

      • ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        I live in the real World. The Lakers will get smashed by the top teams in West. Easy.

      • manchestermiracle - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:11 PM

        The real world? How ironic coming from someone trolling a sports site, something far from real in any world. It’s a game, fella, try not to take it all so seriously.

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:51 AM

        Hey ravensfan19. I bet you were so giddy not so far back when the Spurs were the top seed.

        But what happened to you when they lost to the 8th seed Grizzlies? Last I heard, THAT was the real world.

        I’m no Spurs hater here, but your posturing is kinda out of whack…

  17. mrlitl - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Lakers may not win the ship this year, but they are certainly getting it together finally.

  18. jt1138 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Lakers are finally in the 8th seed, and all the Laker “fans” are coming out. Figures…

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      I’ve seen the same Laker fans on here all year rooting their team on while taking shots from all the naysayers like you. I’d ask for some of those grapes, but they’re obviously pretty sour…

      • 00maltliquor - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:42 AM

        YUUUP. Pretty much…

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:54 AM

        That dude doesn’t have any grapes. You’re asking the wrong person.

        No grapes there.

        The man has vinegar.

        Yup, really sour.

  19. hammycheeseer - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    The only chemistry the lakers have is with the stern controlled refs. Of their last 10 wins, they would have lost 7 if refs didn’t heavily rig the game. Portland, Dallas, Hornets, raptors, and atlanta are games that come to mind. Refs tried their hardest to screw over the nuggets but they needed some help from the lakers, which they didn’t get.

    All in all, the undeserving lakers will get swept in the playoffs, because they will most likely be facing the spurs or the thunder. Neither team the lakers refs will rig the series against, though maybe the league may screw over spurs.

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Does that tinfoil hat come off or has it welded itself to your pin head? Stern screwed the Lakers royally when he nixed the Paul trade. If he really wanted the Lakers to get some sort of unfair advantage why would he do that? I’ll wait while you check your crystal ball and re-shuffle your tarot cards….

      • hammycheeseer - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:25 PM

        keep using dumb reasons to come up with excuses for something that is so obvious. Its already proven the kings were cheated in 2002. The chris paul trade was nixed not because stern wanted it nixed, its because rest of the OWNERS wanted the trade nixed since the owners OWNED the hornets. so Stern had no power to manipulate that trade.

      • bozosforall - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:28 PM

        Poor crybaby Boston fan. Hammy the Loser.

      • manchestermiracle - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        “Proven the (K)ings were cheated in 2002?” If you’re basing your case on the testimony of a known cheater, crook and liar, Tim Donaghy, then your claim is thinner than a tenement apartment’s walls.

        In case you didn’t know, hamsammich, Stern had final say over New Orleans’ team operations even after claiming he had faith in Dell Demps. Yes, the league owned the Hornets (meaning all the other teams’ owners) but Stern was in charge of day-to-day operations. He stuck his nose in thinking the Hornets could get more than what the Lakers and their trade partners were offering.

        Paul ended up going to the Clippers and the Hornets arguably got less than what they could have in dealing Paul to the Lakers. So your argument about the league favoring the Lakers is tenuous at best, but hang on to those conspiracy theories since that’s always easier than confronting the facts.

  20. ravensfan19 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Stern will make sure the Lakers make the Playoffs. The Fakers make him too Much Money. Just like he screwed the Kings in 2002. That Championship should have asterisk to it.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:56 AM

      Vinegar, anyone?

  21. BigBeachBall - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    missing the playoffs isn’t in our DNA… please son…

  22. Great Caesar's Ghost - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    1991 Finals…4-1….great thing about the Bulls is they had the greatest athlete of all time, any sport. 6-0.

  23. maddogg911 - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Lakers don’t fear anyone. I hope we get the spurs; we Know them well, The thunder are less lethal w/out harden, the Denver nuggets … We send them packing year after year, the clippers are good but they are not there yet and everyone else can’t beat us. Kobe is on a mission , lebron and wade we will see you in the final round . Lakers in 7

  24. maddogg911 - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    No one can’t outwill Kobe …. Enough said

  25. omniusprime - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Look how quickly and easily the Lakers made Kobe’s playoff guarantee good, so many dimwitted pundits said they couldn’t do it but then the pundits say a lot of stupid stuff. The Laker haters are crying, they’re worried their favorite teams are going to be beaten in the playoffs by the Lakers.

    Despite Dumbtoni’s horrible coaching and Trash Nash’s total lack of defense the Lakers should be looking for the 6th seed. Kobe and Howard look to be the new Dynamic Duo! Looks like Dwight is getting back to his superman self. I can’t wait for Pau to get back for the playoffs, then the Lakers will be a monster team.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!!

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