by Marcel Mutoni

Before the Lakers went out and beat a short-handed Spurs team on national television last night, Kobe Bryant was once again asked about his feelings towards the team.

As usual, Kobe skirted the question – it’s worth noting that the man has yet to recant his desire to be traded – but did say he’s happy in L.A. and is pleased with the direction the team is taking.

“I’m happy to be here,” Bryant said. “My guys and I — we have such a tight bond. Business and basketball sometimes can cloud things, but when you get here in your element and you’re around your teammates and just having a good time with them and thinking about them and not about the business of the game, that’s when it becomes fun.”

“I don’t think the wins we’ve had are a fluke whatsoever,” Bryant said. “In our locker room, we don’t feel like the wins we’ve had are flukes. We’ve had to grind some out and go into tough places and deal with injuries and illnesses. We feel pretty good about where we’re at.”

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, because I refuse to get excited about this Laker team (last night’s win for instance, nice as it was, didn’t tell us a whole lot about the squad).

Thanks to an improved bench, however, they’ve managed to climb to well above .500 without Bryant having to expend too much energy on the offensive end of the floor. As result, his defense has gotten a lot better, and his teammates have followed his lead.

It’ll be interesting to see if Kobe’s feelings about his guys stay the same as the season grinds along.