Having Kobe Bryant on your team is why you win most games. Or having a big center like Andrew Bynum in the paint.
But maybe the best sign about the Lakers is that playing a contending team on a night those two big guys had off nights, the Lakers still won. The Lakers made their comeback in the third and fourth quarters with a lineup of Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant (with Luke Walton getting a couple of his minutes), Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar and Shannon “I can score, too” Brown. It was the Lakers bench that was key to this game. That beat one of the best in the East.
A huge game from Kobe is not the sign of a championship team. You know those are going to be there, that he is going to hit key shots with the game on the line. It is winning without your star that is the sign of a title team.
Zephid added these points in the comments.
-Dwight Howard beasted all over Bynum. When Bynum was guarding Howard 1v1, Howard was just too fast and strong for Bynum to hold off without help, which starting killing our rotations and leaving shooters wide open. It was only when Gasol started guarding Howard that he got bothered a little and started putting up some bad shots (plus the Magic went away from Howard for a good quarter and a half).
First, Bynum had a stomach ailment that slowed him. Also, Bynum’s second foul (a questionable one on Barnes) shook Bynum’s confidence. He was tentative after that, and Howard eats that for lunch. The Lakers had to go to Gasol. And Bynum, long term, needs to be able to play through that.
-Farmar and Brown played great, as everyone saw. I was scratching my head a little as to why they only played like, 7 minutes in the 1st half, but Fisher also played pretty good in the 1st quarter [Note: He was 3-3 and a +6 in the quarter]. I didn’t like most of Shannon’s shots, but he got into such a rhythm that they just kept falling for him. Same pretty much for Farmar. Their shots don’t look pretty (completely the opposite of Lewis; his shots look perfect every time), and perhaps that’s why they shoot so inconsistently.
-Shannon Brown should have a session with the rest of the guys on how to close out shots. There were three or four times when Brown was the rotating man and had to close out on one of Lewis or Redick or Anderson, and Brown ran full speed at the shooter, and swung with his arm with his body going past the shooter. You could tell that this really bothered Lewis and caused him to brick a couple late threes that could’ve really hurt the Lakers.