Give L.A. Its Due Starting With Dwight

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Let the singing of the praises begin. The Los Angeles Lakers are in the playoffs and in this strange season, that’s no small feat.

May it start with Dwight Howard. He was demanded to be dominant without Kobe Bryant by analysts such as Magic Johnson and more, and for those two must-have games he delivered: 42 points, 35 rebounds and seven blocks while playing 82 of 96 minutes.

“Everybody counted us out, but one thing that I told the guys tonight was that we’ve been through so much as a team this year, from the injuries to the rumors and everything that has happened,” Howard said after the Lakers rallied to defeat Houston 99-95 in overtime and pass the Rockets for the seventh seed. “It could have made us separate from each other, but we stayed strong, stayed together and we won for each other tonight. So we’re happy that we’re in the playoffs, but we’re not done yet.”

Next up for a golf clap is coach Mike D’Antoni. He’s absorbed tidal waves of criticism since taking over — including from right here — as the fans’ distant second choice to jilted Phil Jackson. Sure, Kobe’s season-ending Achilles injury might have finally forced D’Antoni to bend and feed his two bigs, Dwight and Pau Gasol, as so many have screamed for months, but he did.

Dwight’s 30 shot attempts over the last two games are his highest two-game total since March 6-8. At the other end, he reminded us why he was the three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Orlando before the back injury last season derailed a shot at four in a row. His two defensive gems against a driving James Harden late in the game were marvelous.

Gasol, dogged by injuries and an intellectual basketball divide with D’Antoni, came through in the last two games with 24 points, 36 rebounds and 13 assists, with a number of nifty passes going to Dwight.

The bottom line is the Lakers were written off and easily ridiculed. On Jan. 2 they were 15-16 and in 11th place. On Jan. 24 the Lakers hit rock-bottom, in 12th place at 17-25. Since then, through the death of beloved owner Jerry Buss and injuries to Gasol and Nash and Metta World Peace and now Kobe, they finished 28-12.

With the season on the line every single day in April, the Lakers won eight of nine.

“Obviously I’m really proud the way for just a month they had to just play in elimination-like games every night, and I think Steve Nash said it best, or Dwight, I forget which one said it, but after they [Houston’s Chandler Parsons] threw in the 3 to tie the game and it went into overtime, he said, ‘It’s been hard all year, this stuff’s happened all year, so why was this any different, and it’s not going to be easy and let’s go out and win it,’ and they did.

“The great thing about it was everybody contributed, somebody did something that we got the win, because you can’t shoot 36 percent and make it easy, it’s going to be tough. So we didn’t shoot the ball well, but other than that I thought we had good shots and I thought the guys obviously played hard and we played well defensively again.”

It has been a team thing. Steve Blake has been off the charts with back-to-back 20-plus-point games. Antawn Jamison had 31 points and 10 rebounds, and shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.

While Utah’s loss at Memphis just before the Lakers tipped off against the Rockets got them in the playoffs, the gutsy win made sure they’d snag the unforeseen seventh seed and avoid Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Blake said. “I’m just proud to be a Laker.”

Now these Lakers will take their cuts, with the pressure eased and nothing to lose with Kobe on crutches, against a disciplined and proficient San Antonio Spurs team. However, it is a Spurs team that limps into the postseason and isn’t immune to an early postseason upset.

In this strange season, anything, it seems, is possible.

56 Comments

  1. Ibrahim mathias says:

    Lakers can make history during the playoff

  2. Ruel says:

    L.A haters what can you say now? Without Kobe they make it to the playoffs, do not under estimate the heart of the champions go LAKERS! GO!

  3. Dymir says:

    Kobe will be back

  4. Shawn says:

    They have two seven footers and some of the greatest talent without Kobe, so they should have beaten a less experienced Houston team and a hurt Spurs team. No big deal! Where was the hustle before Dwight, who was getting like four rebounds a game? you cant blame that on Kobe. You cant be a leader until you can be a follower. Dwight is doing what he is paid to do, what he is and was expected to do – his job. Its not about egos, its about team work. Magic was correct when he said he should be fired if they lost. They should win the championship, even without Kobe (my favorite player).Nash is saying his points may go up now that Kobe is down…i really dislike this team. It was Kobe who took you to where you have a chance and if you lose the championship without Kobe then i think you all need to be fired. you should be able to take the finals…

  5. Michael Rowe says:

    The odds are against the Lakers, no one thinks the lakers can beat the spurs in the first round. Time well tell. Go Lakers

  6. googergieger says:

    You mean give the refs credit. Never have I seen the league try so hard to get a team barely into the playoffs. Suffice to say, the only thing that worries me in the Denver/Golden State series is the refs cheating Denver to get Golden State into the next round to face off against The Lakers after they helped cheat The Spurs.

  7. jsalvadorgm says:

    I bealive on this Lakers team, may be they are not going to win the finals, but they can be there!!!!! event without their main player, that by the way, it is not a Super Star……….. Koby Bryant is a Living Legend.
    GO LAKER!!!!!!!

  8. Greg says:

    Of course. Without Kobe hogging the ball and disrupting the offensive flow, Dwight and Pau can finally flourish.

  9. ball don*t lie says:

    good pont about nash – he can go back to his usual great game of dishing out the ball. in trying to adjust with unfamiar shots one can see just how difficult it is to be a pure shoter like kobe and melo. but nash always brings his best game so i hope the muscles can take the effort.

    how “old” was steve kerr when he hit those 3 pters at the bulls?

  10. Big Al says:

    It would have been a perfect opportunity for the Lakers to take in Iverson who can somehow pick up the slack after Kobe was injured. He should have been given a chance just like T-Mac when he was signed by the Spurs. While I do give credit to the team for winning the last two games to seal seventh spot, there still needs to be good depth in the backcourt. Meeks is still too young and without playoff experience, and Goudelock wouldn’t be as reliable either. We can beat San Antonio, but if we want to remain in serious contention, he is the guy we need. If we go through to the second round, we would potentially face Denver, which is also A.I.’s former team. The Nuggets are very dangerous despite not having a superstar, but having Dwight and The Answer on board will at least provide much needed intimidation. It’s just a big shame that he’s been overlooked; teams simply couldn’t realize what he can do for them and instead focus on his infamous antics. It’s certainly a lose-lose.

  11. Badgers says:

    A very big if but, IF the Lakers somehow won the championship, would Kobe get a ring? As they only have a chance of winning it now hes injured, if he was still hogging they wouldn’t have a chance.

    Wasnt sure if all 15 players on the roster get a ring or only those who make a certain number of appearances / playoff minutes etc.

  12. LA-ATW says:

    Lakers defense continues to improve, Dwight has been remarkable, controlling the board,blocking shot, etc… In addition, Pau’s ability to get the rebound, is a great help for Dwight. In the other hand, the offensive capabilities of Pau, is leveled to the all time great. And this guy is a threat for SA that has only 1 big man that can compete to Howard and Pau. And don’t disregard the offensive caliber of Blake. He step up big time after the devastating injury of Kobe. Lakers now have the coach of the month, the twin tower, and the motivator. I think the team is ready for the 1st round. Just maintain the balance and this team will definitely move forward.

  13. support Dwight says:

    we need Dwight!!

  14. This bruno from BORAT says:

    You’re wishing right???? lakers will win it all??? LMAO…. not gonna happen… LA fans comeback again if you win 1st round first…. But if your lakers falls which is more likely to happen… then comeback again next season…. As of now your comments are GARBAGE….

  15. Kobeblackhole says:

    Lakers gonna get sweep they gonna be the laughing stock of this years playoffs

  16. samps says:

    One more thing, in bold, “Play-Offs is not the same without Kobe Bryant, we are gonna miss a great deal of play-offs without KB24″

  17. allaroundballer says:

    If Nash comeback healthy, Dwight mates (Minus Kobe) is still better than his previous Orlando

  18. samps says:

    I don’t see Lakers going beyond 2nd round, as most favorably they’ll face OKC if they beat San Antonio and Houston defeats OKC with OKC having home court advantage. But this is NBA, anything is possible, so watch out for Lakers….missing Kobe though….and for the haters, it was Kobe who started the push for the play-offs, he promised us and fulfilled it, no matter he’s a ball hog or cancer for the team, at the end of the day, what matters is that you won and you’re into the playoffs and Kobe played a very important role in the play-off rush.
    .
    All hail Kobe Bryant (24) A.K.A. Black Mamba….go Lakers!

  19. Go Lakers and make history. We will win it all.

    Ray
    Ray Duque III (GMBD), USA

  20. dwan fulwood says:

    The Lakers will win the championship this year for Jerry Buss , Kobe and themselves. Call me crazy but the L.A. Kings did it from the 8th seed by catching fire . It can be done . Nobody in the nba has two big men as talented as the Lakers playing together. Slow the game down , throw into the post, rebound and play great defense and watch. OKC, Denver,San Antonio, New York , Miami etc will get man-handled in the paint watch. !st victum is San Antonio with old man Duncan. Tell me right now would you be surprise if the Lakers upset the Spurs ? Not at all.

    • khalil says:

      yes u r crazy, i would not be surprised if they get to the west finals but no way they can beat okc or miami to win a championship, they do not have the speed to defend their guards nor enough offense ,and for all of u lakers haters out there do not be too happy because next season howard will resign and kobe will be back and the management will get a young pg and sf who can shoot and defend very well and win a championship again. go lakers…..

    • Pakyaw says:

      Yes, you are crazy!.. Hahaha..

  21. ball don*t lie says:

    lakers – a team i love to root against. give kobe credit for having the force and will power to get them in the playoffs.credit phil jackson for convincing everyone that howard should be a focal point down low – a turning point in howard’s performance and and and attitude.

    don’t bother lokking at the game films of the lakers as the playoffs will be a comletely different team – good luck to them.

  22. deJavu says:

    dumbtoni wasn’t around this winning thing….if you just see how players themselves want to win and be part of the playoffs.

  23. Patty says:

    I DONOT TRUST DIWIGHT HOWARD AND DEFINITELY NOT THAT COACH OF THE LAKERS.

  24. Patty says:

    WE ALL NEED TO TELL KOBE THANK YOU!!!

    • Francisco says:

      for getting injured, he is a cancer for any team, overrated as a closer, only a 31 % shooter in the last 24 seconds since 1997, kobe as a closer is a lie

      • ranfan says:

        Lol so, he’s still managed to make game winning shots. If he’s so overrated, the NBA greats wouldn’t praise and him like they’ve done. You are just jealous.

      • Francisco says:

        @ranfan , jealous lol, I am just stating the facts, he had 36 big shots which had been shown over and over again, his 79 misses
        not,, most nba players and coaches will choose him based on that , media manipulation, look I do not like Carmelo either, but He shoots 47.5 at the last 24 seconds well above his career averages which make him THE BEST CLOSER IN THE GAME wether I like it or not , he is, But kobe is not , 31% IS PRETTY BAD.

  25. Harold Mangum says:

    It took a lot of work from an organized refs to get the Lakers to the play-offs. All the Phantum calls payed off.

    • 562boy says:

      are you kidding me. did you happen to see all the calls that the lakers didnt get in the houston game? lol try blaming something else everyone gets calls in the league just depends on how big of star you are.

  26. Anthony says:

    Congratulation to you LA Lakers and to all the wonderfull fans
    Lakers, you guy surprise me

  27. Patrick Arthur says:

    Lakes should not earn praise from anybody. They wac as hell

  28. Lakerfan says:

    I think that the entrance of Pau in the team has been vital even more with Kobe’s injury. Possibly Lakers won’t get far in the playoffs but i believe in the small percentage that they have, there is no pressure at all and beating Spurs is achievable for Lakers , i think they can surprise with the postseason.

  29. Max says:

    Kudos for DH he shot the majority of those FREE THROWS just over the front center rim and DROPPED them in. NO spin on release and made two in a row.. He has the IQ so look out soon will be at least an 80% FREE THROW SHOOTER
    ! Other areas of the game he has it. Shooting shots off of the board much more softly AND SHOTS drop into basket. YA for HOWARD. I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL OLD POP TRIES TO “HACK Howard” HOWARD CAN WALK UP TO THE STRIPE AND DROP THE BALL JUST OVER THE FRONT RIM SOFTLY/ THAT WILL SHUT OLD POP UP! NO MORE SPIN WHEN RELEASING FREE THROW!! JUST DROP SOFTLY OVER THE FRONT CENTER RIM AND SWOOSH!!!!! ARCH AND DROP, JUST LIKE THROWING A WAD OF PAPER INTO A WASTE PAPER BASKET. NOTHING TO IT. YOU HAVE IT!!!!

    • datdude says:

      I’m sorry to burst your bubble but D Howard will NEVER, and I mean EVER be a 80% free throw shooter!!!! Not in this lifetime!!!! I’m a lakers fan!!!! But even I’m not that laker crazy!!!! Geesh!!! 80%? 80???? Or did you mean 80% of his points will come from the line, or that he’ll be at the line 80% of the time? You couldn’t have meant 80%!!! When did Def Comedy Jam come back? Why didn’t anyone tell me? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in years!!! 80% indeed….

  30. Bling says:

    too bad the team only decided to play defense after kobes injury

    • Pakyaw says:

      Where’s all the lakers fan?…lakers starting to play good now(without Kobe)..well, I guess is not the coach problem at all..

      • Matthew C says:

        They’ve been playing well since the all stars. It’s no a Kobe problem

      • Baller says:

        thats why when kobe was injured with a sprained ankle the team lost most of their games. Dont speak if you havent followed the lakers. Their problem was always defense and being clumsy.

    • Patty says:

      YOU ARE RIGHT!

  31. justsaying says:

    An injury, healing over time? Shenanigans, I say!!!

    /heals all wounds cept the brain damage apparently.

  32. Dganiel says:

    That’s the way Steve Blake used to play for the Blazers. He was a solid PG for Portland.

  33. shin213 says:

    dwight howard is a disease, i GUARANTEE that the lakers don’t win another championship with him as their “star” player. they will need to bring in someone better, someone with more drive, talent, better work ethic, someone who actually lives up to their potential. howard didnt play in the beginning of the year due to his “hurt shoulder” and now after an entire season is done, suddenly his shoulder doesn’t hurt??? gimme a break, he is a puss.

    • Ihatestupidity says:

      That’s the stupidest thing I’ve read on here. It’s called “healing”, look it up.

      • Lakers says:

        when Dwight is 100%, which he won’t. Nobody has surgery and be back 100%. But when he gets to at least 95%, he’ll dominate. With the championship minded like the Lakers, they’ll get good players around him and he’ll get at least one title, which he deserves. Btw, Dwight needs to be more seriuos with his opponents so they dont think he’s soft and nice so they jump and dunk over him. He needs to use his muscles and like Lebron, who always gets away with offensive fouls, so i guess it works. Have fun Dwight, but let your opponent know you’r serious about giving them a can of whoop-a$$. Be mean like KG on the court and have fun like Dwight off court!

      • LakersFan says:

        Agree. You cannot be jealous of his recovery. I really admired that he overcame his hurt shoulder. He really stepped up after Kobe’s archilies break. He became the superman like he was in Magic. We will count on him in the playoffs!

    • KC says:

      Maybe it takes some times to recover from a major back surgery. Have you ever had one, and then had to compete at an NBA level of athleticism?

    • Jason says:

      Robert Horry coasted through the regular season, then turned it on in the playoffs. Championships aren’t won in January.

    • Bruce Wayne says:

      Sounds like a disgruntled Magic fan to me…

  34. W/E says:

    Dwight and Pau can dominate if they play like their past good selves, I really believe that these 2 will suprise everyone and get the lakers deep in the playoffs, with D12 and Gasol leading, the Lakers will improve, build chemistry and be a contender without Kobe having the ball all the time in his hands and messing up the team. As long as D12 and Pau stay healthy and play at allstar level they can handle any team.

    • Denver2013Champs says:

      If only Pau knew how to jump

    • bynum's knee says:

      The return of the two towers….nice

    • ranfan says:

      The lakers not rotating when kobe gets double teamed and drawing defenders is what messes up the team. When he gives them open shots and they miss, that messes up the team. Not playing defense as a whole and bad communication was messing up the team