From Kevin Ding, OC Register: In a quiet moment last week, a close friend named Derek Fisher noted about Kobe Bryant’s right knee: “I don’t think he’s as far off as some people think.” Indeed. Bryant showed his recuperative powers Wednesday night with a triple-double, lifting the Lakers to a 5-0 start to this season. The Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings, 112-100, behind Bryant’s 30 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Bryant’s 17th career triple-double came after he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (37,492) for the most minutes played in Lakers history in the game’s opening minutes. Bryant is in his 15th Lakers season, a record by one season over Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Maybe Kobe Bryant was right. Phil Jackson might owe him an apology.?? They had been ensconced in a mild debate since Bryant recently declared himself 100% recovered from off-season knee surgery, a decree Jackson answered with a roll of the eyes. ??Then came Wednesday, Bryant had a huge night statistically against the Sacramento Kings, and the gavel could finally be pounded.?? The debate was over. ??Bryant had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the Lakers’ 112-100 victory over Sacramento at Arco Arena.?? It was his 17th career triple-double, and it wasn’t the end of his stat line. He was nine of 10 from the free-throw line and committed only one turnover. The one minor critique would have been his accuracy — nine-for-22 shooting — but it was almost nitpicking compared to the rest of his work.
From Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee: The Kings have trailed big in every game they’ve played this season. But that has been a footnote at times as they managed win three of their first four games. But playing against the team that has won the past two NBA championships, there would be no big rally. The Kings lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 112-100 Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 16,113 at Arco Arena. The Kings won their home opener Monday against Toronto by overcoming a first-quarter 17-point deficit. But playing against a veteran Lakers team, the Kings couldn’t do enough to get back into the game after trailing by 20 points in the third quarter.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: The Los Angeles Lakers have played so well to start the season without Andrew Bynum in the lineup — a 4-0 record with an average margin of victory of 13.3 points — that the question had to be asked: When Bynum does fully recover from offseason surgery to his right knee that’s kept him sidelined since the start of training camp, will he be welcomed back into the starting lineup with Lamar Odom playing so well in his stead? “We like what we see from these five guys [in the starting lineup]; however, there are extenuating circumstances with Drew,” Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. “He has a knee that [puts him] in a situation [where] he’s got to get himself prepped before a ballgame. He wears a brace because of it and, as a consequence, once he’s warmed up you hate to have a guy sit down for 15 minutes and cool off and have to start all over again.”
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Like a crocodile lurking in the reeds (or wherever crocodiles lurk), Fish was quiet for much of the night. Only two shots and four points at the half. You wouldn’t have noticed him much in the third quarter, either. But in a critical stretch of the fourth after the Kings had closed a lead once as large as 20 to eight, Fisher struck, grabbed the game in his jaws, pulled it under water and thrashed it around until it was good and dead (or something like that). Between the 4:09 and 3:14 mark of the final quarter, Fisher ran the length of the floor after grabbing a rebound and drew a shooting foul at the other end. Two trips later, he drilled a 3 from the corner, followed by an and-one on L.A.’s next possession. All seven of his post-halftime points inside a minute, effectively icing the game. Seems like we’ve seen this movie from him before, in a few different forms.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: This isn’t the type of win you spend a lot of time thinking about after a season’s over. For NBA title aspirants, a midweek visit to the Sacramento Kings in early November is more or less a nonevent. You show up at the duly appointed hour, you win by a dozen or so (in this case, by a final score of 112 to 100), you move on to the next opponent. But it’s only in retrospect that the outcome seems predetermined. The Lakers were on part two of a back-to-back set, having played in and traveled from Los Angeles last night. Those are not ideal circumstances for one of the oldest teams in the league. The Kings are young and feisty, and their crowd sees a home game against the Lakers as a defining event of a season that’ll probably end in the draft lottery. I’m not suggesting we should organize a parade down Figueroa tomorrow morning, just that a game like this is trickier than it looks on the surface. And in the war of attrition whose prize is home-court advantage in the Finals, these are the W’s you need to pile up. Beating the Kings counts just as much in the standings as wins over anyone else.
From Ziller, SacTown Royalty: The Kings had two spells in the fourth quarter where they made a real run at the Lakers: when Kobe Bryant was on the bench, and when Luther Head was guarding the former MVP. Head did a great job on Bryant, forcing difficult shots without fouling, something the other Kings who got an opportunity to check No. 24 — Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia — simply couldn’t do. Since Head didn’t get his shot until the fourth, Kobe ended up with a brilliant line: 30 points on 9-22 floor, 3-6 threes, 9-10 line, with 10 rebounds, 12 assists and just one turnover. He was, as he is in so many games against the Kings and, well, everyone else, the difference. (Excuse me; my mouth is full of vomit, and I need to empty it, sterilize it and watch Tyreke give Matt Barnes vertigo again.)
Britt Robson, Sports Illustrated: It’s already apparent that a deeper bench and internal improvement will make the Lakers less reliant on Kobe Bryant during the regular season. Lamar Odom’s greater low-post responsibilities during the FIBA World Championship have toughened him at both ends of the court. According to Hoopdata, he leads the Lakers in makes at the rim (11, in 15 attempts), and his defense rendered David Lee invisible during the decisive 34-14 first quarter against Golden State on Sunday. Newcomer Steve Blake, an upgrade over last year’s backup point guard, Jordan Farmar, made a great first impression with the late go-ahead three-pointer in the opener against Houston.