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Saturday, January 14, 2012
Kobe Bryant scores 42, Lakers outlast Cleveland (postgame video)

By Brian Kamenetzky

There were some things to like during Friday's 97-92 win over the Cavs at Staples Center Friday night, and other things... not so much. Either way, following an 0-2 start, the Lakers have now found themselves on the right side of the scoreboard in nine of their last 11, pushing them to the top of the Pacific Division. Still, it's a little tough to measure just how good this Lakers team actually is.

We'll find out soon enough. Starting Saturday against the Clippers, the Lakers play six straight against playoff caliber opponents. They'll do it without Steve Blake, expected to miss 3-4 weeks in the wake of his rib injury, but with a red hot Kobe Bryant, who scored another 42 points on 15-of-31 from the floor, his third straight 40 point game and 110th over a 16 year NBA career.

One reason for hot streak: That bum wrist is getting a little less bum

Maybe he should ding it up again? The results over his last seven games, including six Lakers wins, have been otherworldly. 37.4 points on 50 percent shooting, plus 5.7 rebounds and five assists. Perhaps it's best not to change a thing?

I kid. In the clip below, Kobe attributes the run to the quality of shots he's been getting since sitting down with Mike Brown following the Denver game on New Year's Day. Certainly Brown and his staff have learned to put Kobe in advantageous positions with consistency, a major improvement over last year. So there's that, plus a healthy dose of motivation brought by playing with the wrist and a totally palpable desire to send a message to anyone who believes (or more importantly who Kobe believes, believes) his time as an elite player has run its course.

My position hasn't changed. As a fan of basketball and athletic achievement, Kobe's play has been amazing and a ton of fun to watch. As someone paid to form an opinion on how it impacts the Lakers, I'm less enthused. Kobe has talked about his scoring as a weapon they can use as needed. Unfortunately, it's one they've fired a lot in the early going. At some point, the Lakers collectively need to find ways to lighten Bryant's load, or the odds of a happy outcome this season go down.

There's time to get it done, but this season in particular time is of the essence. Until they do, though, the fireworks likely continue. There's a reason people like fireworks.



More from Bryant below, on the absence of Blake, Andew Bynum learning to deal with double teams, and more. Video as well from Darius Morris, Bynum, and Brown.

Kobe, on Blake's absence:
Kobe on Bynum dealing with double teams:
Brown (pregame) on the development of the non-Kobe parts of L.A.'s offense: Morris, on tomorrow's game against the Clippers. He starts by noting how much it helps to have shared a floor with Chris Paul already, even if only in the preseason:
Morris on the win over Cleveland, his performance, and playing with Kobe:

Bynum on the win over Cleveland and dealing with double teams:

Bynum on Saturday's game with the LAC: