From Kevin Ding, OC Register: When the Lakers’ offense would get in a rut, Phil Jackson would move Kobe Bryant from the wing to the backcourt in the triangle offense and essentially force Bryant to shift his mentality from pure scorer to team playmaker. Mike D’Antoni can do that, too. And he has.D’Antoni muttered a week ago: “The ball sticks, and we don’t take very good shots.” But with Bryant taking over much of the ball-handling duties from D’Antoni’s longtime and all-time great point guard Steve Nash, the Lakers have morphed the past two games into a cohesive, winning unit. Bryant posted 14 assists — one shy of his 17-year career high — for the second consecutive game in the Lakers’ best victory of the season Sunday: They downed Western Conference favorite Oklahoma City, 105-96. Asked if he was enjoying all the passing, Bryant said: “I enjoy winning.”
From The Sports Xchange, Yahoo Sports: Los Angeles Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake announced via Twitter that he expects to be back from an abdominal strain on Tuesday.Blake has been out with the injury since Nov. 11. The Lakers host the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday. ”The #RoadtoRecovery was long, but I’m back for the @Lakers Tuesday night. #GoLakers,” he wrote on Saturday night. The injury required surgery. He also experienced pain in his groin that needed special plasma and cortisone shots to relieve the discomfort. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN Los Angeles that he expects Blake to return soon, but would not confirm that he would be ready by Tuesday.
From Melissa Rohlin, LA Times: Metta World Peace sat by his locker, relishing the moment. ”This is a beautiful situation to be in,” he said to a small group of reporters. “I want to sit here with you guys in June, just like this.” The Lakers, who entered Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City in 10th place in the Western Conference, had just beat the Thunder, 105-96. World Peace played a pivotal role in the win, with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Not that he wanted much credit. ”It’s a team game; it’s real simple,” he said, before turning on the journalists around him. ”You guys are selfish,” World Peace said. “You media guys are one-on-one because you’re going against each other. You guys are selfish, like you’re trying to go against him, trying to get the best story. You’re elbowing him, trying to tie him up. You’re hiring hit men and stuff and trying to take out other media people. You all are selfish. You’re not on the same team. We’re a team.”
From Sam Amick, USA Today: His Los Angeles Lakers, mired all season long in the sort of slump that no one saw coming, logged their best win yet Sunday by beating an Oklahoma City Thunder team that so many consider the best in the NBA. And Kobe Bryant didn’t mince his words. ”It feels good to finally beat a team that’s worth a (expletive),” he said after the 105-96 victory in which he posted 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds while shooting 8-for-12 from the field. Bryant, whose greatness is indisputable but who is one of the most ball-dominant players in the history of the game, has turned into a Steve Nash clone in the past two games.
From J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Watching the Los Angeles Lakers beat down the Utah Jazz on Friday and take down the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday is enough to make me believe a deal has been struck: The Laker community will be confrontational — the way Kobe Bryant likes it — and in return Bryant will share the ball the way everyone else has wanted. So there was Bryant, snapping at Steve Nash for passing up a shot Friday night. Or Kobe with a look of disgust on his face when Metta World Peace was clogging his path by posting up on the right block Sunday afternoon. You know what else happened on a regular basis this weekend? Kobe Bryant dishing out 14 assists per game as if he were gunning for John Stockton’s record, not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring crown. There wasn’t a contract drawn up by lawyers for everyone to sign. Not even so much as a handshake deal. But everyone seems to be happier after the Lakers’ proved able to, in Bryant’s uncouth terms, “finally beat a team that’s worth a s—” with a 105-96 victory over the Thunder.