Blueprint for LA Lakers to Make Deep Playoff Run in 2013

For the Los Angeles Lakers to have any real chance of riding deep into the playoffs this spring, they'll need that "back-to-the-wall" energy they've showed in must-have wins over Sacramento, Dallas and Memphis this week.

They also could use some fresh legs.  Although they gutted out another fine defensive effort in defeating the red-hot Grizzlies, 86-84, Friday night, Kobe Bryant and six other Lakers who played all walked into the locker room after the game spent.

The Lakers certainly have the stars, they just haven't been aligned for much of the season. An abundance of injuries, two head coaching changes, the loss of their beloved owner and a shaky semblance of team chemistry drove the Lakers into such a deep hole that just making the playoffs seemed like a major stretch for the purple and gold.

But, since falling to 17-25 in January after a blowout loss in Memphis, the Lakers are 23-11 and playing their best basketball of the season. The question now is: will this team have the wherewithal and energy to compete in the postseason?

With six huge games left in the regular season, starting with an "away" game at Staples Center Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers find themselves precariously holding on to the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference. 

Could the Lakers be turning on that proverbial switch as they have for so many seasons?

Is it ludicrous to even ponder the possibilities of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol making a deep run in this year's title chase?

Nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Much depends on how hot a team is playing when the playoffs start. The Lakers need only look at what their Staples Center neighbors on ice did in last year's Stanley Cup run. 

The Los Angeles Kings were en eighth seed when they managed to sneak into the postseason at the 11th hour, got ve...

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