Mike D’Antoni Says Lakers Can Make the Playoffs After Kobe Bryant’s Knee Injury

The Los Angeles Lakers may be 13-13 and a game-and-a-half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but head coach Mike D'Antoni feels that his team has what it takes to qualify for the postseason, despite the recent announcement that Kobe Bryant will miss six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. 

"Yeah, we can do that," D'Antoni said before the Lakers' 104-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "Yes."

The Lakers certainly took a step in the right direction on Friday when they trounced the Timberwolves behind 25 points from Nick Young and 21 points apiece from interim starting point guard Xavier Henry and Pau Gasol to improve their record sans Bryant to 11-9. 

And if you've been watching the Lakers all season long, then you're well aware of the difference in the team's energy with Kobe in and out of the lineup, something that B/R's Andrew Bailey discussed following Friday night's win: 

On Friday against the T'Wolves, coach Mike D'Antoni saw his Lakers running and gunning again. They scored 19 fast break points (up from the 9.7 they averaged with Kobe in the lineup).

The difference in energy level is so clear it can't be ignored. And the difference in chemistry might be even more obvious, and more important. 

When Kobe was playing, everything seemed geared toward integrating him, involving him, trying to find a role.

However, while D'Antoni is remaining positive, he's well aware that the Lakers are facing an uphill battle, per McMenamin:

It's difficult every year, D'Antoni said of the Western Conference. The last two, three years, you win two more [games], you lose two more, you're either 12th place or fifth place. That's just the way the West is. It's been that way for a number of years. There's some really good teams, and you ...

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