On a night when Bryant was far from his dominant self, Gasol showed what a key piece he is for the Los Angeles Lakers despite being overshadowed by superstars. They dearly missed him for the first 11 games, when Gasol was sidelined with a strained right hamstring.
Gasol scored 22 points to lead seven players in double figures and also had 12 rebounds, and the Lakers won their fifth straight game with a 130-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
"Pau's just being Pau," Bryant said. "He's one of the best in the game. We missed that."
Ron Artest added 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Bryant had 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals after a slow start to help the Lakers to their highest point total of the season.
Los Angeles had plenty of offensive power to beat the Warriors for a sixth straight time, getting 13 points and five assists from Derek Fisher and 12 points and seven boards from Andrew Bynum. Reserve Shannon Brown added 17 points, including two spectacular dunks.
Monta Ellis scored 18 points and Corey Maggette had 17 points and six rebounds in Golden State's third straight game without ill coach Don Nelson, who is fighting pneumonia. Nelson is expected to miss two more games before rejoining the team for Thursday night's home game against Houston.
"Our energy level was really low," Golden State's Anthony Morrow said. "And that's not how we've been playing lately."
The Lakers won all four meetings with the Warriors last season and have swept the season series in three of the last four years.
Next up for Los Angeles on Sunday: the winless New Jersey Nets, who would have to pull off a major upset to avoid matching the worst start in NBA history at 0-17. The record for futility is held by the expansion Miami Heat (1988-89) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1999).
"I think we'll talk about that tomorrow, but I'm not that worried about this team's complacency," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They're driving themselves and their leadership is good and they drive the players around the team. The big key is that New Jersey is going to win a game and we know that's going to happen because they have talent and they've got young talent and they play hard."
Not that the Lakers look at all beatable at the moment.
They shot 52.3 percent in the first half to Golden State's 34.8, and this one was all but decided in the opening minutes. Fans left in droves by midway through the fourth period.
Gasol shot 9-of-11 and also blocked three shots.
"I think I'm making progress," he said. "Every game I'm taking a step forward and I'm feeling better. I feel like my conditioning is better. My moves are stronger and a little bit quicker, too."
Bryant went to the bench with two fouls at the 5:59 mark of the first quarter and the Lakers used a 19-9 run without him to build a 36-22 lead heading into the second. Bryant was hit with a technical for jawing at official James Capers after being called for a charge on the other end.
He returned to start the second quarter and missed his first four shots before finally scoring his first points of the night on a putback of his own miss 8:58 before halftime. Bryant shot 8-for-20 overall.
Ronny Turiaf returned to the Warriors' lineup after missing nearly a month and 12 straight games with a sprained left knee. He had three points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
Ellis had scored 20 or more points in six of his last seven games and 30 or more in three straight but never found a groove in shooting 8-for-19. He was averaging 37.7 points over his previous three outings.
The Warriors fell to 0-4 against the Pacific Division, including 0-2 at home.
"We played a very bad game," Warriors fill-in coach Keith Smart said. "We never got into the game. We didn't show our fans how we are able to play and have been playing."
The Lakers have won four in a row at Oracle Arena. They are 20-3 over their last 23 games vs. Golden State. ... On staying in San Francisco, Jackson said: "very scary because we had to cross the Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge is shaky." The Houston Rockets took a ferry to their game here in late October while the bridge was undergoing repairs after a cable snapped. ... The Lakers held their shootaround at the University of San Francisco's Memorial Gym, the place Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, Bill Cartwright and other greats once played -- and at the school where the late Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell got his start. "I showed them a court that has some historic value," Jackson said. ... Golden State G Raja Bell will undergo left wrist surgery sometime next week. ... The Warriors drew 20,001 for their second sellout.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant talk about the opportunity to represent the United States at the Olympics.
The Mavericks are expected to meet with the Hornets' Nicolas Batum to replace SF Chandler Parsons, who is expected to leave in free agency.
With $30 million in cap space, the New York Knicks could be looking to add more firepower as free agency begins.