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It looked like the Los Angeles Lakers were going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004.This was a big deal since not only are these The Lakers but also it was a team expanded over the summer with All Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash that was picked by many to win the league.
Things got real ugly fast, with an awful preseason, Kobe death stares, a fired coach, terrible shooting, everyone getting injured, supposed near-fights in the locker room — and by Jan 23 the team was a stunning 8 games under .500 winning ratio.
The Lakers had only around a 20 per cent chance of making the playoffs, according to John Hollinger’s sophisticated calculations at ESPN.
But Kobe Bryant wasn’t worried. The Lakers legend told Sports Illustrated in an interview published Feb. 21: “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone.“
This quote went viral and got only nervous chuckling endorsements from other Lakers.
And yet here we are …
Last night the ninth place Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors for their seventh win in 10, continuing a steady second-half comeback.
And the stars aligned as the eighth place Utah Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls for their sixth loss in 10, continuing a second-half slump.
Now for the first time in months, ESPN’s Hollinger odds project that the Lakers will make the playoffs with a 55.1 per cent chance of making it. If they do make it to the playoffs on this hot streak, the Lakers will be a very scary low seed.
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