by Marcel Mutoni

Everyone knew the script coming into last night: With the tough news regarding Andrew Bynum’s injury breaking just a few hours before tipoff, the Lakers were understandably a bit down. Kobe knew this; Kobe reacted the only way he knows how: The right way. By taking over.

Bryant took a season-high 44 shots (hitting nearly half of them), dropped 48 on the Sonics and knocked in the game-winning jumper in overtime. As far as individual performances go, it was about as good as it gets. But can the Lakers continue to win this way? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Forty-four shots from one player will hopefully not become the norm in Lakerville until Bynum returns, but this is the new reality: Those blissful days of harmonious teamwork and defensive intensity that we’d grown accustomed to in the season’s first 36 games are over. Today, the Lakers are on the top of the world Western Conference. They have won seven consecutive games.

Strange how none of that makes me happy to be a Laker fan this morning.