1. The Ejection: Dwight Howard getting tossed in a close out playoff game against the Spurs. He walked out the arena while at the same time Kobe limped in. One was leaving without remorse or conscience, one remained because of history and loyalty.
2. The Defection: Dwight Howard signing with the Rockets. He never was going to stay in Los Angeles. He did not understand, respect or embrace what 53 years of Los Angeles basketball meant.
3. Kobe vs. The Blazers: Six games left in the season. Lakers had to win in Portland where they always lose. His stat line: 48 minutes, 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals. Lakers win by six, keep playoff chances alive.
4. One for the Team: With three minutes left in the game, the Lakers trailing by two, Kobe crosses the court on a torn Achilles, sinks two free throws, ties the game, leaves the court and won’t play competitive basketball for eight months.
5. March Madness: Down by 5, with two minutes left, in a home game against the Raptors, Kobe hit a three. With thirty seconds left and down by 4 he hit a corner three. With five seconds left he hit a step back three to send the game into overtime. The Lakers would beat the Raptors.
6. Shock the World: In Doc Rivers debut as the Clippers coach, a Lakers team filled with players who are closer to playing overseas than in the NBA did the unthinkable. They outhustled and outplayed their cross town rivals. The Lakers bench played the entire fourth quarter and stunned the Clippers, beating them by twelve.
7. The Seventh Seed: The last game of the season the Lakers played the Rockets without Kobe Bryant to determine playoff seeding. Steve Blake had 24 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds in an overtime win in which the Lakers earned the 7th seed. With six minutes left in the fourth Blake hit a three to give the Lakers the lead at 81-79. In overtime, with 10 seconds left he hit two free throws to give the Lakers the lead at 99-95, and the game.
8. Oh Henry!!: The Lakers sign Xavier Henry as a training camp roster spot, an extra body. He makes the team and against the Blazers on December 1st he scores 27 points.
9. Not Dwightmare: With Kobe tearing his Achilles the previous game, the Lakers had to regroup. Hello Spurs. Aggressive at the start, Dwight Howard in the first quarter had 10 points and 4 rebounds on route to a 26-17 game. The Lakers won by five.
10. Defensive Player of the Year: In a tense game against the Pistons, with two seconds left and the Lakers up by two, Nick Young takes a charge on a driving Josh Smith which seals the road victory for the Lakers and Nick proclaims himself DPOY.
11. Brother Where Art Thou: Historically Pau struggles when playing against his brother. But on April 5th he was the reason the Lakers won. With ninety seconds left he gave the Lakers the lead 85-84. Then he grabbed the defensive rebound and the Lakers beat the Grizzlies and Pau vanquished his brother.
12. Historic Comeback in the Big Easy: Lakers trailed by 16 to start the quarter. Kobe hit a jump shot. Then a free throw. He made another two point shot. He fed Jodie for a three. He fed Howard. He passed to Jodie again. He made a three. He made a layup. He fed Jodie. He hit a jump shot. He made a 10 footer and scored in the paint. He made free throws. Of the 33 points in the quarter he was responsible for 30 of them. The Lakers beat the Hornets by 6.
13. Rebounding Beast: On March 30th Dwight Howard had one of his best games as a Laker against the Sacramento Kings. He had 24 points and 15 rebounds. In the fourth quarter, 3 of his 4 offensive rebounds led directly to points and the Lakers were able to hold of the Kings 103-98.
14. Poster Poster: Perhaps Jeff Withey will feel better because what happened to him was at the hands of his former Kansas teammate. Or maybe not. In the third quarter against the Pelicans Xavier dribbled, faked, and then just took off. Withey was in no man’s land and tried to take a charge- bad idea. Dunked on. Dunked on bad. Wow.
15. It’s a Team Game: Kobe sprained his ankle against the Hawks. He tried to play against the Pacers two days later but he couldn’t push off. He watched from the bench team basketball. Metta had 19 points and 7 rebounds. Dwight had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Nash had 15 points and 9 rebounds. Blake had 18 points and 8 rebounds. Jamison had 17 points and 7 rebounds. The Pacers had only lost 6 games at home up till then. The Lakers were their seventh loss.
16. The Contract: On November 25th Kobe signed a contract extension for the 2014-2015 seasons. He took a pay cut from what he was making this year but the 24 million dollars is still a pricey sum for a player in their 19th and 20th year coming off of Achilles surgery. There was very little negotiation, the Lakers offered and he accepted. It made sense from his point of view. Very few athletes turn money down. It made sense from the Lakers point of view as well. The two max free agents that are available this summer are only a dream. Lebron is 30 and in the next four years wants to win titles so he can match accomplishments with the greatest players of all time. The Lakers are in a state of flux. They don’t know who will be playing for them. As for Carmelo, he will make more money in New York. So might as well pay the one person who pulls in 60 million a year for your franchise, your cash cow. But the ramifications of the contract will have lasting effects with other organizations. Will the Miami Heat offer Dwayne Wade the same deal? Owner loyalty is a big issue for players. The Lakers gesture to Kobe is not lost on free agents. The message was clear: we will take of you. We will not abandon you.
17. Nick and Lebron: It was a sign of respect that Lebron James was guarding Nick Young on Christmas Day. Lebron guards the other’s team best player. Without Kobe that was Nick. It was desperation for Nick to guard Lebron, the Lakers had no other choice. But there he was, Swaggy P, putting up shots over Lebron, scoring on him. It’s a tape he’ll show his kids one day.
18. The White Mamba: The Lakers first visit to Houston, against the Big Defector, Dwight Howard, was a sloppy, thrilling and tense game that had the Lakers take a big lead, and then the Rockets reclaimed control. The Lakers battled back and with one second left Steve Blake hit a game winning three. The Lakers beat the Rockets 99-98.
19. Amnesty That!!: Mark Cuban had mentioned that the best scenario for the Lakers to overcome their financial tsunami was to amnesty Kobe Bryant. Apparently it bothered Kobe. Against the Mavericks, post All Star Break, he put up crazy numbers. He had 38 points, 7 assists, 12 rebounds. He shot 61%, 80% from the three point line as the Lakers beat the Mavs.
20. The Sixth Man: On November 3, in another lineup shake up, Mike D’Antoni moved Nick Young to the bench. Nick being Nick took it all in stride. Since the change he has averaged 18 points a game. In the past three games he has scored 20+.
21. Nash to the Rescue: In a game in which Kobe scored 40 points, Steve Nash made a seven foot jumper to untie the score against the Blazers on February 22nd. The Lakers went ahead 107-105 with a minute and a half left in the game and did not trail again. The Lakers won 111-107.
22. Earl Clark Lob: It was near the half and the Lakers had a twenty second timeout. There were four tenths of a second left. Kobe took the ball out. All eyes were on him. No eyes were on Earl Clark who cut to the rim and dunked the lob. Great pass. Better finish. The Lakers went up by eleven at half. They would win the game by one.
23. I Got This: Jordan Hill had 15 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets. 8 of them were offensive rebounds. Two games later, against the Pistons, he had 17 rebounds, 5 of them offensive.
24. Layup then Dunk: With two minutes left in the game and the Lakers trailing by one point Kobe drives the ball and dunks one handed over Josh Smith giving the Lakers the lead. With nine seconds left and the Lakers trailing by one he arcs a layup over Josh Smith to earn the win over the Hawks 99-98.
25. Pau in the Clutch: With 6 seconds left, against the Atlanta Hawks in November, Pau was at the line. The game hung in the balance. The score was tied. His two free throws gave the Lakers the lead 105-103. Then on defense he blocked Kyle Korver’s shot with two seconds left for the Lakers win