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After rocky regular season, Los Angeles Lakers still playoff-bound without Kobe Bryant

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    Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Blake(5) is greeted by Pau Gasol(16), of Spain, Antawn Jamison(4) and Dwight Howard(12) after making a three-point basket against the Houston Rockets during the second of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The Lakers won 99-95 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (The Associated Press)

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    Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley, right, steals the ball from Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, of Spain, during the second of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The Lakers won 99-95 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (The Associated Press)

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    Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, of Spain, is greeted by Steve Nash during overtime of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The Lakers won 99-95. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (The Associated Press)

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    Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard reacts to a play during the second of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The Lakers won 99-95 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (The Associated Press)

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    Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, left, of Spain, Dwight Howard, center, and Steve Nash celebrate their team's 99-95 overtime win against the Houston Rockets after an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (The Associated Press)

Dwight Howard's first season with the Los Angeles Lakers has been filled with more twists, turns and disappointments than he ever imagined.

Yet he's hoping the Lakers have a few more surprises in store for the playoffs.

Los Angeles reached the postseason as the Western Conference's seventh seed with an overtime victory over Houston on Wednesday night, capping a 28-12 surge in the second half of the season for a star-studded club with enormous expectations.

Just about everything went wrong for the Lakers this year. They had a winless preseason, a coaching change and an exhausting list of serious injuries.

But even without Kobe Bryant, Howard insists the Lakers have a chance to make a serious playoff run. Los Angeles' struggles haven't dented the team's belief in its fundamental talent.