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Lakers turnaround just as impressive as Celts

Much has been made of the turnaround by the Boston Celtics this year going from worst to first in the NBA's Eastern Conference.  But another team that was left for roadkill after last season was the L.A. Lakers.  Once the league's glamor team, they were still wallowing in a post-Shaquille O'Neal malaise as a non-factor in the playoffs and Kobe Bryant was looking to star in his own version of Escape from L.A.

The Lakers' transformation was less dramatic than that of the Celtics but the end result was the same.  Like the Celtics, the Lakers finished as the No. 1 seed in their conference with a decisive win over Sacramento last night.  That gives L.A. the home-court advantage in what figures to be a much more difficult playoff battle in the wild, wild West.  And Bryant?  After averaging 28.3 points, 5.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds -- and showing that he understands there are four other guys wearing the same uniform -- he may finally get the MVP coronation that has so far eluded him.

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Photo credit: Lori Shepler / LAT

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