The Lakers probably shouldn't expect to gain any ground in the Western Conference playoff race tonight, as the Rockets and Jazz are set to play the NBA's two worst teams, the Magic and Bobcats. Still, a win last night over the Timberwolves pulled the Lakers back to within a game of .500 and within just two games of Houston in the Western standings. Here are a few of the latest notes out of Lakerland:
- With last Thursday's trade deadline in the rear-view mirror, Mitch Kupchak no longer has to continue insisting that Dwight Howard won't be traded, but as Sam Amick of USA Today writes, the Lakers GM is still defending Howard. Kupchak tells Amick that he was surprised Howard returned from back surgery as early as he did, and that he believes D12 has received an unfair amount of criticism.
- Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth explores the question of whether the Lakers' future is safe in the hands of Jim Buss, noting that Buss would be wise to place his trust in Kupchak.
- Kobe Bryant has frequently suggested he may retire when his current contract expires in 2014, but given how well he has played this season, retirement shouldn't even be on Kobe's radar, writes Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.