Lakers Can Enter Playoffs Picture With Win Over Bulls - NBC Southern California
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Lakers Can Enter Playoffs Picture With Win Over Bulls

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers take on a strong Chicago Bulls team that is better on the road than at home.



    Following the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court with a refreshed attitude and a sharpened focus that has them tied for the final playoffs spot in the Western Conference entering Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls.

    After winning seven of their last nine games, the Lakers suddenly boast a winning record and are only 2.5 games back of sixth place. With a relatively lenient schedule to finish the season, LA potentially has an opportunity to avoid the dreaded duo of San Antonio and Oklahoma City in the first round.

    On Sunday, however, the Lakers face the immediate task of winning against the Chicago Bulls. A win would mean the Lakers take over the eighth seed and tap their toes into the playoffs pool.

    Chicago is not an easy opponent by any means, and the Bulls are a rare breed in that they have a better away record than home record. No other top 20 team can claim the same.

    Dwight Howard Calls 4th Quarter "Kobe Time"

    [LA] 4th Quarter is 'Kobe Time' - Lakers Dwight Howard
    Dwight Howard says the fourth quarter is "Kobe Time" after the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors on Mar. 8, 2013, and Kobe Bryant finished with 41 points.
    (Published Saturday, March 9, 2013)

    Luckily for the Lakers, Chicago enters Staples Center on a three-game road losing streak.

    Also, the Lakers have not lost at Staples Center since the All-Star break, and the purple and gold colored crowd has been energized to playoffs levels sensing the importance of each late regular season game.

    Along with energizing Lakers fans, Kobe Bryant’s recent performances have silenced the Clippers voices for the moment, and the Lakers are the talk of LA once again.

    Dwight Howard Called Lakers Season "Humbling"

    [LA] "Humbling Season" - Dwight Howard Describes Time With Lakers
    Dwight Howard talked about recovering from injury and described his season with the Los Angeles Lakers as a "humbling" experience after win against the Toronto Raptors on March 8, 2013.
    (Published Saturday, March 9, 2013)

    Over the past eight games, Bryant has averaged an unbelievable 35.9 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists. He’s scored over 40 points his last two times on the floor, and the Lakers have been winning in heart stopping style.

    Bryant led an 18-point fourth quarter comeback in New Orleans, and he was simply great against the Raptors in Friday’s thrilling overtime win.

    Along with Bryant, Dwight Howard is finally starting to look like the dominant defensive presence the Lakers desperately need. He recorded three steals and at least four blocks in the Lakers’ comebacks against the Raptors and Hornets. The Lakers’ center has recorded at least four blocks in four of the last six games, and his movement and activity has been noticeably improved.

    Dwight Howard Going To Waffle House On Orlando Return

    [LA] Lakers Dwight Howard Misses Waffle House
    Dwight Howard was asked about his return to Orlando, and he said he was looking forward to going to Waffle House and seeing Miss Marsha. Recorded on March 8, 2013.
    (Published Saturday, March 9, 2013)

    To go along with his steals and blocks, Howard’s activity on the boards has been consistent following the All-Star break. He is averaging 14 rebounds following the break, and he has pulled down at least 12 rebounds in each of the last nine games.

    In addition, the understanding between Bryant and Howard is as strong as it has ever been, and the balance of the Lakers appears to be leveling at the perfect time. Although they still have plenty of flaws, the Lakers have one of the most lethal scorers in the history of the sport and the best defensive player in the game (if healthy) playing on the same page.

    The offense-defense combination may have taken a few months longer to figure out than most imagined, but the Lakers are moving in the right direction at the right time.

    Lakers Dwight Howard Talks "Crazy" Return To Orlando

    [LA] "It's Going to Be Crazy" - Dwight Howard On Return To Orlando
    Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers said his return to Orlando, where he spent eight years, was going to be "crazy" after the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors on March 8, 2013.
    (Published Saturday, March 9, 2013)

    On Sunday, the Bulls provide the latest challenge for the resurgent Lakers.