- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
Sunday was a vision of what the Lakers can look like at their best, with or without Bryant.
They shared the ball well, assisting on 33 of their 47 baskets.
They shot the ball well, hitting the 50-40-90 mark as a squad (52.2 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 100 percent from the free throw line).
They had different players filling different roles and owning them. Steve Blake controlled the ball. Jodie Meeks shot it from deep. Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol controlled the boards. Jordan Farmar and Nick Young filled in off the bench. Wesley Johnson ran the court and played above the rim.
Just a great night for a team that was searching for itself a bit in the interim before Bryant returned and suddenly looks as if it has some stuff heading in the right direction.
How it happened: L.A. used a 16-0 spurt though the end of the third quarter/start of the fourth to break the game open and really turned it on throughout the entire final frame.
What it means: After flubbing the first game of their four-game homestand with a weak effort in the fourth quarter against Memphis, L.A. looked sharp at Staples Center once again, improving to 5-7 with a chance to get back to .500 with the final two games next weekend.
Hits: Hill had career highs in both points (24) and rebounds (17).
Johnson had 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting, with half of those field goals coming off alley-oop passes from Blake.
Meeks followed up his 25 points against Memphis with 19 against Detroit, including a 4-for-7 mark from 3.
Gasol neared a triple-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Young scored 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting off the bench.
Farmar had six points and five assists in 13 highly effective minutes.
L.A. went 10-for-10 from the free throw line as a team.
Misses: Chris Kaman was the odd man out of the rotation, finishing with two points on 1-for-4 shooting in five minutes.
Stat of the game: 8. That's the number of assists Blake, who came into Sunday averaging 9.4 assists in his past four games, had in the first quarter. The assist total was a bit off Magic Johnson's franchise record of assists in a quarter (12) and even further off Blake's own NBA record that he is tied for with most assists in a quarter all-time (14), but was impressive nonetheless. Blake's 16 total assists Sunday marks the first time in his 11-year career that he had 10-plus assists in four straight games.
Up next: The Lakers have a rare four-day stretch without a game Monday-Thursday and get back into action Friday at home against the Golden State Warriors.
LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant returned to practice and then the Los Angeles Lakers returned to winning. Not a bad weekend for a team that seemed to be barely treading water only a few days ago.