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“If you look at our season, it’s been a nightmare,” Vitti said. “When you try to look at the whys, it’s bad luck.”

Jodie Meeks, averaging 8.0 points, will start in Bryant’s spot against the Spurs. The Lakers won’t know until game time whether Nash will return from a right hamstring injury that has kept him out for six games.

The Lakers are likely to rely heavily on their big-man duo of Gasol and Howard, two proven veteran scorers who have worked together splendidly on occasion. During Los Angeles’ win over Golden State, Gasol embraced a playmaking role and threw a series of alley-oops to Howard, who addressed the team after practice Saturday.

“We know what we have to do,” said Howard, an unrestricted free agent this summer. “We know he’s out, but we can’t put our heads down like it’s over with. We have to go out there and play. We have a lot of talented guys on this team. I think we can accomplish something great, with or without Kobe.”