For the Los Angeles Lakers to make the NBA playoffs, it’s going to take more than close calls and help from the refs. It’s going to take, apparently, Kobe Bryant not resting for more than a minute or two each game, while sticking to the game-plan of actually giving up shots to provide for others, while hoping that Dwight Howard continues to make free throws as his defense manages to cover the holes the rest of his teammates leave him to handle.

Without Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, the Lakers turned to another different formation, with Kobe Bryant playing next to Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake, while Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard continue the dysfunctional twin tower routine. You know what? It worked. When there are no close calls, there is no one to start complaining, and the Lakers didn’t really have a lot of trouble or a need from refs to bail them out, beating the Dallas Mavericks and possibly eliminating them from the playoff race with a 101-81 win.

Kudos, obviously, go to Kobe Bryant, who has rested a total of 79 seconds in over the last couple of games. He finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks, while even putting the kind of defensive effort he seemed too lazy or too tired to put into the previous performances. When the perimeter isn’t easy to penetrate as t has been for so many times this season, and the transition defense makes more of an effort, Dwight Howard doesn’t look so helpless after all.

In another aspect of his game that usually keeps him frustrated, the free throw shooting, Howard id OK. Yes, 50% for him is OK, as the Mavs kept fouling him, sending him 20 times to the line, hoping to somehow get back in the game. It didn’t really matter with Dirk Nowitzki having a rough night (4-13 from the field, 11 points), and Howard himself looking pretty dominant all over, finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Once again, the Lakers are tied with the Jazz at 39-36, losing the tiebreaker. For them to make the postseason, it’s probably going to take at least five wins, considering how hot the Jazz are right now, and for Kobe Bryant to keep his pool of energy somewhat filled, because it’s going to be about a lot of restless games for the Black Mamba in order to finish in the top 8.

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