The Los Angeles Lakers enter the final day of the NBA regular season not knowing whether they will make the playoffs.
LOS ANGELES — Last summer seems so long ago for the Los Angeles Lakers. While superstar Kobe Bryant was in London winning his second gold medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, the stateside hype over the coming NBA season was just beginning. Bryant was about to be joined by guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard to form a superfriend collective to rival the Miami Heat’s.
Or at least that was the plan.
This season has not been kind to the Lakers, with age, injuries and ego undermining the big moves. With Bryant recovering from surgery on his left Achilles tendon, the team is not assured of a playoff berth entering the final day of the regular season.
The Lakers can earn the No. 7 seed in the eight-team Western Conference playoffs by beating the visiting Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. The Lakers will be the No. 8 seed in the West if they lose and the Utah Jazz loses at Memphis.
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But if the Lakers lose to Houston and Utah wins in Memphis, the Lakers are out of the playoffs because the Jazz holds the tiebreaker.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni recalled that earlier in the season, “Everybody wanted to be an alpha dog. Everybody wanted the ball. So we had to get through that. We got through it pretty good.”
• San Antonio signed forward Tracy McGrady, 33. He is a seven-time All-Star who has averaged 25.2 points in 44 playoff games. McGrady most recently played for Qingdao of the Chinese Basketball League, averaging 25 points and 7.2 rebounds in 29 games.
• Caron Butler scored 22 points as the host Los Angeles Clippers beat Portland 93-77, their sixth victory in a row.
• The 20-year-old son of legend Magic Johnson is surprised by the public interest in his being gay, something he revealed to his supportive family years ago. Earvin Johnson III, known as E.J., says he feels as if he is coming out of the closet a second time and is “reveling” in the experience.