2010-11 Season

Record: 57-25, first place in Pacific Division

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson announced before the start of the season it would be the last of his stellar coaching career as the Lakers aimed to win a third consecutive NBA title. The team got off to a fast start, winning 13 of their first 15 games despite playing without Andrew Bynum, who missed the first part of the season recovering from offseason knee surgery. Kobe Bryant, who captured his fourth All-Star MVP award, once again finished as the team’s leading scorer. However, lingering knee pain kept him out of most team practices and had an effect on his scoring totals. After enduring a tough middle portion of the season, which included a dismal Christmas Day loss to the Miami Heat, the Lakers won 17 of 18 games after the All-Star break before dropping five consecutive contests at the beginning of April. They posted an identical overall record to their 2009-10 campaign, finishing second in the Western Conference behind San Antonio.

Playoffs: The Lakers lost their first ever playoff game against New Orleans after sweeping the Hornets during the regular season. They bounced back in Game 2 behind a 17-point effort by Bynum before dominating Game 3 in New Orleans. A 27-point, 13-rebound effort by New Orleans’ Chris Paul helped the Hornets even the series in Game 4 before the Lakers put up a pair of dominant performances in the final two games. However, the Lakers’ string of nine consecutive postseason series victories would come to an ugly end against the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Dallas overcame large second-half deficits in Game 1 and Game 3 thanks primarily to the efforts of Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 28 points through the first three games of the series. Frustrated, the Lakers fell apart in Game 4, losing by 36 points. Bynum and Lamar Odom were ejected for flagrant fouls (Bynum was also issued a five-game suspension for the start of the 2011-12 season) as the Lakers were swept in a playoff series for the first time since 1999.

Playoff results:
Western Conference quarterfinals
New Orleans 109, at Lakers 100
at Lakers 87, New Orleans 78
Lakers 100, at New Orleans 86
at New Orleans 93, Lakers 88
at Lakers 106, New Orleans 90
at Lakers 98, New Orleans 80

Western Conference semifinals
Dallas 96, at Lakers 94
Dallas 93, at Lakers 81
at Dallas 98, Lakers 92
at Dallas 122, Lakers 86

-- Austin Knoblauch