Spurs power forward Tim Duncan passes around Lakers center Dwight Howard… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers hit a playoff dead end in Week 26, trying to beat the San Antonio Spurs with a decimated skeleton crew.
TNT and NBA TV analysts Steve Kerr, Kenny Smith and Dennis Scott all agreed that the Lakers had no real chance against San Antonio. Injuries only hammered home their points with the Lakers floundering against the ever-efficient Spurs
Jordan Hill, recovering from hip surgery, was cleared to play Wednesday, a lone bit of "good news" regarding players' health as he was back three months ahead of schedule.
The Lakers slipped defensively against the Spurs in Game 2, falling 102-91. Foul trouble was an issue for Dwight Howard, especially on the offensive end.
Letting the emotions of the day get the best of them, a couple of fans scuffled in San Antonio after the victory on Wednesday.
Steve Blake injured his hamstring in the game, knocking him out indefinitely. Jodie Meeks, who sat out Game 2, remained doubtful for Game 3 with an ankle sprain. Steve Nash tried to get ready Friday as well, taking two epidural injections and a cortisone shot.
All three would be out for the remainder of the series.
Despite the Lakers' poor start against the Spurs and plethora of injuries, the Houston Rockets were given even less of a chance to make the NBA Finals than the Lakers -- at least by oddsmaker Bovada.
Recently signed Andrew Goudelock was named the NBA Development League's MVP. Injuries would suddenly thrust Goudelock into the spotlight as a starter for the Lakers.
Metta World Peace had a cyst in his knee drained before Game 3. After trying to go for a half on Friday, his postseason would end early. Starting Darius Morris and Goudelock, the Lakers were beaten soundly, 120-89.
Pau Gasol said it plainly, "We've been murdered by injuries." Howard struggled to avoid offensive fouls.
Game 4 wrapped up the season on Sunday in a 103-82 San Antonio victory. Afterward, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said it just wasn't a fair fight due to the Lakers' injuries.
Earlier in the week, Bryant swore off Twitter during games after his words seemed to take focus away from the team. On Facebook, he wrote that the image of his final free throw, shot after a torn Achilles' tendon, will be the motor for his recovery.
World Peace disagreed with Bryant about tweeting during the game, instead encouraging it in greater volume.
On Tuesday, Bryant got his cast off, transitioning to a walking boot.
Howard came in 14th place for the NBA's defensive player of the year, which didn't sit especially well with the three-time award winner.
Earl Clark received some votes for the league's most improved player award, although not anywhere near the winner, Paul George.
Hall of Famer Jerry West came out in support of Mike D'Antoni, calling criticism of the Lakers coach "grossly unfair."
Former Lakers coach Mike Brown was rehired by the Cleveland Cavaliers as head coach, which should help reduce (but not eliminate) the money the Lakers still owe Brown.
Eddie Jordan left his position as assistant coach with the Lakers to head up the program at Rutgers, his alma mater.
Finally, in a thoughtful, critical analysis of reality TV, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar blogged that there's much to learn from the often-snubbed medium.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.