Caught in the Web: Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum sit out to rest up for playoffs
--The Times' Mike Bresnahan has the latest on why Kobe Bryant will miss the final two regular season games, and on the progress Andrew Bynum has made with recovering from a strained left Achilles' tendon.
--Bresnahan also breaks down the Lakers' first-round matchup with Oklahoma City.
--The Times' T.J. Simers gets the details on why Lakers Coach Phil Jackson drew up a play that had forward Pau Gasol shooting a three-pointer on the final play of the team's 91-88 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr anticipates the numerous story lines the Lakers-Thunder matchup brings.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky gives his analysis on what Bryant's absence means for the Lakers.
--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen argues that Bryant's absence serves as the final indicator that the Lakers' matchups with Sacramento and the Clippers are nothing but glorified scrimmages.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin observes how Bryant quickly changed his mind regarding his playing status. Bryant proclaimed immediately after the Lakers' loss to Portland that he'd play out the regular season, but then decided later that evening he would shut it down.--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford notes that the official reason for Bryant's absence involves his fractured right index finger, but it very well could include his sore right knee or sprained left ankle. More Lakers links
--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer didn't like the Lakers' demeanor during the final moments of their loss Sunday to Portland.
--Despite the Lakers' struggles, Fox Sports' John Galinsky predicts the Lakers will at least make the NBA Finals.
--Fox Sports' Randy Hill goes through which teams might have a shot at beating the Lakers in the postseason.
--Sports Illustrated's Frank Hughes believes the Thunder will be overwhelmed in the postseason.
--LakerNoise's Roland Lazenby looks back on when Jerry West joined the Lakers 50 years ago.
--Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix hands out his season-ending report cards. The Lakers won't be embarrassed putting their report card on the refrigerator, but they'll want a better grade in the postseason.
---ProBasketballTalk's Rob Mahoney notes that Memphis forward Zach Randolph wishes he made the kind of money Gasol is earning.--The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry argues Oklahoma City is not playoff-ready.
Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark has concerns about the Lakers beyond this season.
--Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen reveals his individual end-of-season awards. Again, Lakers fans won't be bothered too much with this as long as the Lakers win the championship.
--ESPN's Lisa Salters takes a trip down memory lane with Bryant regarding his memories of Lower Merion High School.
Tweet of the Day: "the NFL is planning a lockout in 2011, cn I try out 4 LAKERS, me & KOBE wld B awsm" -- OGOchoCinco (Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco)
Video Caption Comment on Kobe Bryant's left hook shot: "Hey coach Van Gundy, this tape won't let me bend my finger..." -- I hearned that
Video Caption Comment on Sasha Vujacic's dunk: "SASH-AM!!!" -- Mike
Reader Comment of the Day: "Frankly speaking I have been disillusioned with our team since the ASG, there were opportunities to beef up the line up and we didn't make any move. Kobe has been injured throughout the year. Nobody remembered now the pinky that he played thru last season, olympics to this season then more injuries sustained as such the Mamba moves we are familiar with becaume a little earthworm's wiggle. It does not stink nor it has venom power. As such Lakers became a laughing stock. I go both ways, I jeer at the cheer leaders in this blog as well as those posters that maligned the team like vermins on dark corners." -- Edwin Gueco
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant starts a fast break with an outlet pass over teammate Pau Gasol and Portland guard Brandon Roy in the first half Sunday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times