Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/14/12
The Lakers are in the playoffs. What else is new? With their 103-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth -- their 59th such achievement in 64 seasons of the club's existence. That's a successful franchise for you. And another impressive statistic has developed: The Lakers are 3-1 without Kobe Bryant this season. Bryant sat out against the Nuggets because of a sore left shin and seems unlikely to play Sunday against visiting Dallas, either. The Lakers historically have struggled without Bryant, going 26-27 since the 2003-04 season. Matt Barnes, who scored 24 points in Bryant's absence Friday night, said in his postgame Fox Sports West interview that the focus is heightened now because the playoffs are nearing: "Time to go get the championship." NOTES, QUOTES Sessions works on slowing down --The adjustment period for new point guard Ramon Sessions has shifted to a new area: controlling tempo. Sessions' blazing speed is a trait the Lakers love, but he has been advised to be careful. The Lakers' offense runs best with a slower pace that lets big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol work for position. "I need to let them get situated, but then get them going," Sessions said. --The Lakers' trade of longtime co-captain Derek Fisher left a void in leadership. Lakers coach Mike Brown said numerous players have stepped in to go with Kobe Bryant, citing Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and Ramon Sessions. QUOTE TO NOTE: "I proposed to all the single girls, and they all said, 'I do.'" -- Metta World Peace on his new bended-knee celebration. ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: --G Kobe Bryant is walking without pain but has not attempted to run or jump on his sore left shin. There is even speculation he could miss the rest of the regular season, although the Lakers certainly don't expect that. --G Ramon Sessions reported improvement in his sprained left shoulder, but he continues to deal with setbacks. In the final minute of the victory Friday night vs. Denver, Sessions was fouled intentionally by the Nuggets and writhed in pain for several moments before taking his free throws. --F Matt Barnes has been a far more productive player the second half of the season, and he took it to a new level Friday night vs. Denver with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Barnes has unseated Steve Blake as the most important bench player on the team, filling in at small forward and shooting guard.
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