It was definitely a year to remember… 2013 brought us many Laker memories, some good, most bad. Here is my Top to Bottom: Best, and worst, Laker moments of the year 2013…
1. Lakers end season 28-12
It was a rough start to 2013. As soon as the New Year hit, the Lakers went on a season high 6 game losing streak that pushed their record to 15-21. That wasn’t the worst of it either, through the next six games, the Lakers went 2-4 bringing their record to a season low 17-25, 8 games under the .500 mark. But, after a players only meeting after a loss in Memphis, the Lakers would rally on and win 28 of the last 40 games of the season and qualify for the 7th seed in the Western Conference.
2. Lakers defeat the Rockets and clinch 7th seed
The 2012-2013 season went down to the stretch for the Lakers. The Lakers went into the final day of regular season games in a situation that could have left them missing the playoffs entirely. After Utah’s loss to Memphis, the Lakers had clinched playoff berth but had one final game against the Houston Rockets to determine their positioning. A Laker loss would mean 8th seed and first round matchup against the former Western Conference Champions Oklahoma City Thunder. A Laker win would mean 7th seed and a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. The game went down to the wire, Chandler Parsons hit a buzzer beating 3 pointer to send the game into overtime. The Lakers would end up winning the game in overtime and clinch the 7th seed behind a total team effort lead by Pau Gasol’s 17 points, 20 rebounds, and 11 assists.
3. Lakers open 2013-2014 season with win over the Clippers
After a terrible summer for the Lakers, and a great one for the Clippers, everyone went into opening night expecting the Lakers to get run out of Staples Center by their hallway neighbors. I mean, how could you not? Lakers fresh off of losing Dwight Howard, and Kobe still not yet recovered from his Achilles surgery, were about to face the reloaded Clippers, now coached by former Celtic head coach Doc Rivers, who were ready for a championship run. It was supposed to be a blowout from the start, but the fresh faced Lakers surprised everyone. Led by the bench, the Lakers outscored the Clippers 41-24 in the fourth quarter to win the game 116-103.
4. Steve Blake hits last second 3 to defeat Rockets in first game vs. Dwight Howard
November 7, 2013. Dwight Howard’s first game against the Lakers after his one disappointing year wearing purple and gold. The game went down to the wire and Laker fans rejoiced when Steve Blake hit the game winning 3 pointer over Dwight himself.
5. Kobe returns from Achilles injury
8 months after every Laker fans’ heart broke, we were receiving an early Christmas present. Kobe had been practicing with the team for weeks, everyone was waiting, and finally, December 8 came. Kobe announced his return with a dramatic video on Facebook and everything was supposed to be okay again. Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba, was coming back to rescue this team and push us towards another playoff run.
1. Kobe Bryant tears Achilles, returns, then fractures knee
April 12, 2013. It was a tough day for us all. After an MVP worthy season and averaging over 40 minutes a game, the 2013 injury plague hits Kobe Bryant. We all watched Kobe as he did what we’ve seen him do millions of times before. His back was to the basket, head looking over his shoulder, attack. But this time Kobe ended up on the floor with a torn Achilles. A season ending injury 2 games before playoffs were set to begin. Kobe would undergo surgery the very next day and begin an 8 month rehab that took us all the way to December. His long awaited return to the lineup in the 2013-2014 season came, but went just as quick. Kobe only lasted 6 games and averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.6 turnovers a game before hyper-extending his knee against the Memphis Grizzlies. After that game, Kobe was diagnosed with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, the same leg in which he tore his Achilles.
2. Spurs sweep Lakers in round 1
It was the matchup the Lakers favored the most in the playoffs. After fighting to the last second to avoid facing OKC, the Lakers happily took on the Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. They weren’t ready for what hit them next. The injury plague season extended into the playoffs when Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace, Steve Nash, and Steve Blake all fall to injuries in the first round, the Lakers are forced to go into the final 2 games of the series with a starting back court of Darrius Morris and Andrew Goudelock. The Spurs had no issues sweeping the Lakers beating them by an average of 18.75 points a game.
3. Dwight leaves Lakers, signs with Houston
When the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard in the Summer of 2012, he was supposed to be the centerpiece of the next great Laker era. But after an ill fated year in which little went right, Dwight Howard decided that his future in Los Angeles was over. In the Summer of 2013, Howard met with officials and players from the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers. He ultimately decided he wanted to continue his career in Houston and play alongside James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and for Coach Kevin McHale over Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Coach Mike D’Antoni. Howard’s decision threw a wrench in the Lakers’ future plans and left us with some uncertainty.
4. Injuries, injuries, and more injuries
2013 was definitely the year of Laker injuries. The year started with Steve Nash still feeling lingering effects from his fractured leg, but soon after Pau Gasol went down for five weeks with a torn plantar fascia, Dwight misses time due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Antawn Jamison sprains his wrist, Metta World Peace goes down with a knee injury, Jodie Meeks sprains his ankle in the playoffs and of course, Kobe Bryant goes down with his Achilles. As if all those injuries weren’t enough last season, the injury bug carried over into the 2013-2014 season. Steve Nash has only played a total of 6 games this year due to nerve root damage, Steve Blake went down in early December after tearing an elbow ligament, Kobe fractures his knee, Jordan Farmar sat a few weeks with a torn hamstring, Pau has missed time due to an upper respiratory infection, Chris Kaman has had back and now ankle issues, and the latest victim to injury plague has been Xavier Henry who will miss a minimum 7-10 days with a bone bruise in his knee. Gary Viti and Judy Seto have definitely had their work cut out for them in 2013.
5. Mike D’Antoni
Need I say more?