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LA's precarious lack of depth has been exposed in 2013
Going into this season of expectation, there was a question about the talent of the Los Angeles Lakers once you got beyond their quartet of superstars.
Personally, I anticipated that injuries would be a hindrance early in the season because of age, but even I couldn't see just how much they would affect this team.
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have both missed 24 games of this writing, with Gasol expected to miss at least another 15-18.
Dwight Howard has missed six but has also been hindered as a result of his balky back and a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Players like Earl Clark, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon have combined for 50 starts in their place. And that doesn't even include reserve Jordan Hill, who was limited to 29 games before a season ending hip injury.
I don't think that injuries have gotten nearly enough focus when the Lakers are criticized.
Los Angeles has had three coaches and lost their Hall of Fame point guard after the second game of the year. Factor in not one, but two elite level big men being hampered by injuries, and in many ways, the Lakers are fortunate to at .500.
That is not to say that Bryant hasn't had his share of blame.
But imagine LeBron James playing 40 percent of his season without Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers with 70 percent of Chris Bosh, or Chris Paul playing without Blake Griffin, a physically limited DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford.
My point is not to say that Bryant deserves greater recognition than those players, but that for the year he's having and the adversity the Lakers are slowly overcoming, he does deserve credit.
For him to perform at this level and be the catalyst to a 13-5 run (including 7-4 without Gasol) that has the Lakers back in the playoff picture, Bryant is worthy of recognition.