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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant guarantees playoffs for sub-.500 Lakers

02.22.13 at 7:44 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Suns, 9 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Timberwolves at Thunder, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Spurs at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Louis at Butler, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Dakota State at Akron, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Sharks at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: New Hampshire at Vermont, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: Yale at Quinnipiac, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: North Dakota at Denver, 10 p.m. (NBCSN), 10 p.m.

AROUND THE WEB:

It's been a frustrating season in LA, but Kobe Bryant promises the Lakers will turn it around. (AP)

Kobe Bryant is confident the sub-.500 Lakers will put things together — so sure, in fact, that he’s guaranteeing his team will qualify for the postseason.

“It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will,” Bryant told Sports Illustrated. “And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.”

The Lakers, coming off Wednesday’s rout of the Celtics, have won six of their last nine games to improve to 26-29. They are 3 1/2 games behind the Rockets for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

“We will make the playoffs,” he said. “And we will compete. And part of the reason I have that confidence is the Miami game (a 107-97 loss on Feb. 10). We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the extra pass.

“OK, they have two great players [LeBron James and Dwyane Wade] who scored eight straight buckets and took control of the game. But we were right there. We can do it.”

♦ The lead police investigator in the Oscar Pistorius case was replaced Thursday, after reports emerged that he was facing seven counts of attempted murder.

Hilton Botha and two other police officers were involved in a 2011 incident in which they allegedly fired shots at a minibus they were trying to stop. The charges against Botha had been dropped, but after more evidence was gathered they were reinstated on Feb. 4.

Pistorius’ lawyers have criticized the police investigation and insisted Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder.

The defense and prosecution completed their arguments Friday in the bail hearing, and the magistrate soon will decide if Pistorius will be freed or held in jail pending his trial.

Alex Rodriguez, rehabbing his hip in New York while his teammates are at spring training in Tampa, Fla., issued a statement Thursday indicating his desire to rejoin the team. He did not comment on the accusations that he was involved with a South Florida man who is being investigated for distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

“Right now I’m dedicating 100 percent of my energy and focus on my rehabilitation,” A-Rod said. “I am conducting two rehab sessions each and every day in an effort to get back on the field and rejoin my Yankees teammates. I think we have a great team and I want to be a part of it.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 22, 1934, which Bruins defenseman played his final game and then became the first NHL player to have his number retired?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He’s one of the elite right wingers in the league when he’s on top of his game. He’s got so much potential, and we know that. He’s been through some tough times with that concussion, and hopefully we get him back healthy and get some consistency out of his game because he certainly deserves it.” – Bruins coach Claude Julien on Nathan Horton, who scored two goals in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Lightning

STAT OF THE DAY: 27 – Turnovers for the Bulls, their most in nine years, in Thursday’s 86-67 loss to the Heat in Chicago

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): William Carey University cheerleader Ashlee Arnau hits a halfcourt shot after doing a front flip.

Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov is knocked out after sliding into an elbow from Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey during Thursday’s game in Detroit.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Lionel Hitchman, who wore No. 3

SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Bill Swofford, who had his greatest success when he performed as Oliver, was born on this day in 1945. He was the older brother of current ACC commissioner John Swofford.

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