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Kobe gives the Lakers a chance

As long as No. 24 is in the lineup, Los Angeles will be a serious contender

Updated: April 23, 2012, 1:57 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- There will come a time when things really do change for the Los Angeles Lakers. When they'll be down 18 points late in the third quarter of a big game and Kobe Bryant won't be able to rescue them with a barrage of impossibly difficult shots and tenacious, gritty defense. His legs will go, or maybe his shot. And then it will be a matter of how long he'll accept basketball on diminished terms.

But that time isn't here yet. It may not even be as close as it should be for a ...

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