On Wednesday night, after a season of huge expectations, early failure, continued turmoil, pestering disappointment, numerous injuries and too much drama to keep track of, the Los Angeles Lakers turned an uncertain final game of the regular season into the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
So, Lakers fans ... congratulations?
That depends on the mettle of this team and its new, young leader, Dwight Howard.
Now comes the real test for this Kobe-less team: Whether a playoff berth is enough of a balm against this underwhelming season, or whether they still burn to make this season right and turn their matchup with the No.-2 seeded San Antonio Spurs into an actual redemption story.
To be fair to the Lakers and their fans, they started 17-25 and finished 28-12 despite injuries to all five starters, and they now face a Spurs team that seems vulnerable, offers a good matchup for a Lakers team suddenly with two bigs paying great basketball, and has a history the past few years of ...