Lakers' playoff fate is tough to predict

Updated: April 19, 2004, 11:35 AM ET
By By Terry Brown | NBA Insider
Today, it's still Kobe Bryant taking one shot before halftime. Yesterday, it's Shaquille O'Neal not defending the pick and roll. Tomorrow, it's Karl Malone retiring or Phil Jackson ending contract talks or Gary Payton meeting an opposing team's head coach in the parking lot.

Oh, yeah, before we forget, the Lakers also play their final regular-season game tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers with the Pacific Division crown at stake.

"This team has always had a lot of drama," Jackson said in the Los Angeles Times after the Lakers, behind Bryant's 11 shot attempts in the first quarter, defeated the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, 109-104, to tie the Sacramento Kings at 55-26. "Kobe was bound and determined to show you guys what. Heh, heh, heh. So there."

But everyone is wondering if it was too little, too late.