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Lakers make playoffs as West's No. 7 seed

Superfans like Jack Nicholson will be thrilled that the Lakers made the playoffs. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images) Superfans like Jack Nicholson will be thrilled that the Lakers made the playoffs. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

It took until the final night of the regular season, but the Lakers qualified for the 2013 playoffs by virtue of the Jazz's 86-70 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday.

The loss dropped the Jazz to 43-39 on the season, leaving them two wins short of the Lakers. Utah had held a tiebreaker between the two teams and therefore would have advanced to the postseason had the two teams finished with the same record.

The Lakers, 45-37, concluded their season with a 99-95 overtime win over the Rockets at the Staples Center on Wednesday. That win pushed the Lakers past the Rockets for the season as the Western Conference's No. 7 seed, earning a date with the No. 2 seed Spurs in the first round. The Rockets finished as the West's No. 8 seed and will face the No. 1 seed Thunder in the first round.

On balance, it's been a disappointing season for the Lakers, who entered the season with the second-best odds to win the title, trailing only the Heat, after trading for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the summer. Coach Mike Brown was fired after just five games and the Lakers spent much of the season below-.500 as new coach Mike D'Antoni had to manage injuries to Nash, Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. Despite all of that, All-Star guard Kobe Bryant guaranteed that the Lakers would make the playoffs in February. L.A. has now delivered on that promise despite losing Bryant to a season-ending Achilles injury last week.

The Lakers have now qualified for the playoffs for eight straight years and in 35 of the past 37 seasons. The 2013 playoffs begin this weekend.
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