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Lakers' week in review

May 13, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers power forward Pau Gasol attempts a shot over the challenge of Spurs power forward Tim Duncan.
Lakers power forward Pau Gasol attempts a shot over the challenge of Spurs… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers settled into the off-season with word that Pau Gasol underwent a procedure to help heal his aching knees.  He'll also receive stem cell injections and then have 12 weeks off before returning to basketball-related activities.

Despite his injuries, Gasol finished the season strong -- finally developing some on-court chemistry with center Dwight Howard.

Howard also played injured for most of the year, returning early from off-season back surgery while dealing with a midseason labrum tear (shoulder).

Looking back at the Lakers' season, injuries were the common thread.

Kobe Bryant finished the year in uncharted territory with the most significant injury of his career -- tearing his Achilles' tendon with two games left in the regular season.

As the Lakers evolved, Steve Nash (once he returned from an early leg fracture) proved effective in a revised role as the team's secondary initiator, alongside Bryant as primary playmaker.

Metta World Peace made an early return from knee surgery but after a strong regular season, he wasn't able to contribute much throughout the postseason.

Steve Blake was out early in the season with an abdominal injury but otherwise had his best year since coming to the Lakers.

Earl Clark was a welcome surprise for the team when Gasol and Jordan Hill (hip) went down with injuries. Though he wasn't consistent, he was an unexpected bright spot.

Chris Duhon wasn't intended to be a regular part of the Lakers' rotation, but injuries thrust him into the lineup. Second-year guard Darius Morris also played a larger role than expected, with Nash and Blake sidelined for prolonged periods.

Jodie Meeks gave effort but didn't always provide results as the Lakers' primary shooter off the bench. He did stay healthy, at least until the playoffs (ankle).

Rookie center Robert Sacre was also healthy, proving to be an enthusiastic practice player for the Lakers, despite not getting many opportunities on the floor.

Assistant coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Chuck Person were not retained by the Lakers as Coach Mike D'Antoni looks to revamp his staff for next season.

D'Antoni did not win any votes for coach of the year, which went to George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. How much blame falls on D'Antoni for the team's challenging season? How much credit should he get for the Lakers' second-half success (despite injuries)?

General Manager Mitch Kupchak received no votes for executive of the year, which was a snub given his acquisitions of Howard, Nash, Antawn Jamison and Meeks. Denver's Masai Ujiri won the award, and 17 executives finished ahead of Kupchak.

Looking to next season, the Lakers may have serious competition in the Pacific Division from the surprising Golden State Warriors and the Clippers.  Of course, that assumes the Clippers retain Chris Paul -- and that the Lakers re-sign Howard.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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