Five games into the season and Kobe Bryant appears to be back to superstar form after offseason knee surgery.
That likely doesn't bode well for the Toronto Raptors.
Coming off his first triple-double in almost two years, Bryant looks to continue his and the undefeated Los Angeles Lakers' home dominance over the Raptors on Friday night.
There was some concern in Lakers camp that Bryant might need a little time to get going after the surgery. However, those issues likely were put to rest after Bryant recorded 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 112-100 win at Sacramento on Wednesday.
"I just feel better. I feel fine," Bryant said. "I'm 100 percent."
After posting his 17th triple-double and first since Jan. 21, 2009, Bryant is averaging 25.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists while leading the Lakers to a 5-0 start.
"I thought he might start off struggling to find some rhythm and he would build some rhythm as things went," teammate Derek Fisher said. "To see him play this well this early, he's on my team, so that's good for me. But that's not good for everyone else when he's playing this good this early."
The last thing the Raptors (1-3) need to see Bryant at the top of his game.
The two-time reigning NBA finals MVP has averaged 33.6 points and shot 49.8 percent in his last 10 home games versus Toronto. That included an unforgettable 81-point effort in a 122-104 win over the Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006.
Looking to open with six straight victories for the second time in three seasons, Los Angeles has averaged 110.3 points during an eight-game home winning streak against Toronto. The Raptors haven't beaten the Lakers on the road since Dec. 28, 2001.
Joining Atlanta and New Orleans as the NBA's only undefeated teams, Los Angeles is averaging a league-high 113.8 points. The Lakers also committed just six turnovers against the Kings.
"It's just picking up where we left off," coach Phil Jackson said. "Kind of generating energy from the championship season, going out with a lot of knowledge of what we want to do."
Off to a strong start, Pau Gasol (23.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg) has averaged 23.5 points and 10.5 boards in his last four games against the Raptors.
While Toronto has struggled against the Lakers with Chris Bosh leading the way, it could face a more difficult challenge now that the star forward is playing for Miami.
Andrea Bargnani has carried the early scoring load, averaging a team-leading 24.0 points. He's totaled 54 points in losses at Sacramento and Utah to open Toronto's four-game western road trip.
Bargnani has averaged 21.3 points in his last three games against the Lakers.
Toronto looks to improve defensively after giving up an average of 103.8 points to the Kings and Jazz. Utah scored 41 first-quarter points and shot 56.5 percent in Wednesday's 125-108 victory.
"We've got to be better off the start," coach Jay Triano told the Raptors' official website.
The Raptors, 15-26 away from home last season, have not dropped their first three road games since 2006-07.