Opportunity knocks now for Lakers

We know the ceiling of the current Lakers is not of that of the Heat, who are vying to become the first team since the 2001-02 Lakers to three-peat and are doing ridiculous things on the court on a nightly basis. (Witness Dwyane Wade's off-the-glass alley-oop Wednesday that LeBron James finished his left hand.)

But L.A. could be like the 2008-09 Houston Rockets, who suffered injury after injury but had the right mix of "special stuff," as D'Antoni calls it, to take them all the way to Game 7 of the second round against the Lakers.

The Lakers just need to know when to make their move. Because the further they slip from .500, (as Bryant pointed out Wednesday: "We all know how tough the Western Conference is") the faster the franchise's priority will flip from the postseason to draft preparation.

"Just understand it's going to take our whole team to come out and play aggressively and with intensity in order for us to win games as shorthanded as we are," Gasol said. "It's a good opportunity for us to get on the right track and put a few wins together. Let's see if we can finish the year strong."

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