Can LA Lakers Turn Tragic Season Script into Feel-Good Playoff Story in 2013?

Kobe Bryant is clinging to the Hollywood script.

The historic narrative of one of the game’s all-time greats is still being written, and this season might be a final feat before the epilogue.

Bryant is dragging the Los Angeles Lakers by his ankles into the postseason, a mark that seemed nearly impossible in late January when the team was a season-worst eight games under .500 (17-25).

The West Coast's super team, loaded with big-name newcomers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, appeared ruptured beyond repair. Management wasn’t interested in trading its new big man, even as the waters of scoffs and sneers looked to drown the under-performing franchise.

But in an outstretched 82-game season, Bryant never yielded to doubt.

The ninth-place Lakers floated in the wake of the Western Conference’s top eight teams, 3.5 games behind the Houston Rockets. Still, Bryant didn't waver and told Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum that his team would be in the playoffs.

“It's not a question of if we make the playoffs,” Bryant told McCallum on Feb. 21. “We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone—Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver ... whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.”

Okay, Bryant is pretty good with his word.

Since that date, the Lakers have been the sixth best team in basketball with a record of 10-5. Thanks to the Utah Jazz, 3-11 since that day, the Lakers sit proudly in the West’s eighth spot, 1.5 games ahead of Utah and 2.5 games behind the seventh-seeded Houston Rockets.

In 13 games since Feb. 21, Bryant has carried the Lakers, scoring 28.4 points per game on 49 percent shooting and also averaging 6.9 assists and 6.0 rebounds. Howard has picked it up too, averaging 16.5 points, 14.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and Nash is averaging 14.1 points and 5.5 assists.


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