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Kobe Bryant warms up before a game between (Credit: Getty)

Kobe Bryant warms up before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors in Shanghai, China. (Oct. 18, 2013)

NBA story lines in the West for 2013-14

Newsday's Roderick Boone highlights five key story lines in the Western Conference as the 2013-14 NBA season begins.

Hello, Houston Dwight Howard shunned the Los Angeles
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Hello, Houston
Dwight Howard shunned the Los Angeles spotlight to head to Texas and team with former Knick Jeremy Lin and sparkplug James Harden, who can fill it up with the best of them. The Houston Rockets might even try to go big with Omer Asik and Howard in the lineup together.

Kobe Bryant’s health It’s unclear when the Lakers
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Kobe Bryant’s health
It’s unclear when the Lakers superstar will make his return from a torn achilles. Kobe Bryant, still looking for motivation at age 35, changed his Twitter avatar to a "1225," representing two ESPN rankings Bryant considers unflattering of him and his team — the rankings predicted the L.A. Lakers would finish 12th in the West and had Kobe's personal ranking at No. 25.

Will the old Russell Westbrook return? Westbrook's postseason
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Will the old Russell Westbrook return?
Westbrook's postseason was cut short with a freakish injury. He remains out 4-6 more weeks following knee surgery earlier this month. How he responds is key – even with Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder just isn't the same team without its point guard. |

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Do the San Antonio Spurs have one more
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Do the San Antonio Spurs have one more run in them?
This might be the final act for Duncan, Tony Parker & Co., so they’ll be motivated after getting so close to winning it all five months ago. |

Doc’s L.A. call After not wanting to be
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Doc’s L.A. call
After not wanting to be a part of the Celtics’ rebuilding project, Doc Rivers went west and is trying to change the culture around the Los Angeles Clippers, already ruffling some feathers by instructing the Lakers' banners to be covered up during Clippers' home games. |

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