They hope it doesn't take 48 points and an overtime game-winner from Kobe Bryant every night to survive for the next eight weeks without Bynum.
Bryant capped his season-best offensive outburst by swishing an 18-footer with 4.3 seconds left in overtime to help the Lakers beat the Seattle SuperSonics 123-121 on Monday night.
It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Lakers, their longest winning streak since rolling off 11 straight in March 2004. But this one was revealing.
Playing on the road, on back-to-back days, and having just received word Bynum would be out until at least March, the Lakers withstood every shot from the Sonics.
Of course, having Bryant certainly helped.
"This is a tough one," a tired-looking Bryant said. "Tonight was one of those nights where I kind of had to read the mood of the team. Us kind of being a little deflated with (Bynum) going down, being a back-to-back, coming in on the road, it was one of those things where I just kind of wanted to be a lot more assertive."
How assertive? Bryant scored the final six points of overtime. He took 44 shots -- three off his career high.
Before the game, Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said he wouldn't mind if Bryant went off just as long as he was forced to take a lot of shots. Carlesimo just didn't count on Bryant making nearly half of his attempts (21 field goals).
It was Bryant's 87th career 40-point game, one behind Elgin Baylor for third all-time in league history.
And Bryant's efforts nearly went for naught. Seattle took advantage of Bynum's absence inside and nearly kept the Lakers from moving into a tie with Phoenix atop the Pacific Division. Instead, it was Seattle's seventh consecutive loss and another snapshot that Bryant can add to his career highlights.
"That's why he's the best player in the world," Seattle rookie Kevin Durant said.
Nick Collison led Seattle with 24 points and 18 rebounds, and Durant finished with 19 points, but missed 20 shots.
Seattle had opportunities to pull away in overtime after jumping out to a 121-117 lead. Kurt Thomas missed a pair of free throws with 2:23 left and Bryant hit back-to-back jumpers -- a pair of fadeaways from 5 and 14 feet -- to again pull the teams even.
After a Durant miss, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom missed open 3s, but Durant again failed to give the Sonics the lead, missing an 18-footer over Kwame Brown. Odom grabbed the rebound to give the Lakers one final chance and Bryant capitalized, making up for missing an open jumper and getting stripped at the end of regulation.
Seattle had one final chance to force a second overtime, but Collison missed an 18-footer at the buzzer.
Lakers' coach Phil Jackson passed Bill Fitch for sixth place on the all-time wins list with 945. Jackson said he thought about the milestone earlier in the day, but was more concerned about how the Lakers would respond without Bynum, who suffered a left knee injury Sunday night in a victory against Memphis.
The 20-year-old Bynum was averaging 13.1 points and 10.2 rebounds for the Lakers and will now sit and see if his teammates can continue their surprising start. The Lakers have won 17 of their past 20.
But the Sonics exposed the Lakers' interior. Seattle outscored Los Angeles 56-46 in the paint and the inside combo of Collison and Thomas outscored Bynum's replacements -- Ronny Turiaf and Brown -- 40-24.
"We're obviously going to have to put in a lot more work and practice, and refocus on defense now that we don't have Andrew down there," Lakers forward Luke Walton said. "We missed him a lot."
The frantic fourth quarter and overtime capped an entertaining matchup that featured 22 lead changes and 11 ties.
Seattle had chances to win in regulation after Durant had pulled Seattle even at 115 on a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left. Bryant rimmed out a 3 of his own, but Durant couldn't connect on a 23-footer with 6 seconds left. Bryant was then stripped by Earl Watson as he went up for a potential game-winning shot, sending the game to overtime.
"We can win ugly games. This was an ugly game for us ... and we found a way to tough it out," Bryant said. "Last year, I don't know if we would have won this game."
|Kobe Bryant takes 44 shots, none more important than his game-winning basket in OT. (AP)|
|L.A. Lakers (26-11) «||28||36||23||28||8||123|
|LAL:K. Bryant 48 Pts
LAL:L. Odom 14 Reb
LAL:L. Odom 7 Ast
|SEA:N. Collison 24 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 18 Reb
SEA:L. Ridnour 11 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|L. Odom, PF||46||3-15||0-0||14||7||0||6|
|K. Bryant, SG||42||21-44||4-7||2||2||1||48|
|K. Brown, C||39||3-4||4-6||10||0||4||10|
|D. Fisher, PG||34||5-10||0-0||0||0||2||12|
|L. Walton, SF||33||1-6||2-2||10||7||1||4|
|T. Ariza, SF||24||3-6||2-2||5||0||5||9|
|J. Farmar, PG||19||5-6||0-0||1||4||0||12|
|R. Turiaf, PF||18||3-5||8-9||2||3||6||14|
|J. Crittenton, PG||11||3-6||2-2||1||1||0||8|
|C. Mihm, C||Did Not Play|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Vujacic, SG||Did Not Play|
|A. Bynum, C||Did Not Play|
|C. Karl, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Durant, SF||41||6-26||5-6||1||1||1||19|
|N. Collison, C||39||10-16||4-6||18||1||3||24|
|K. Thomas, PF||36||6-8||4-6||9||0||4||16|
|J. Green, SF||36||6-12||2-2||7||3||3||14|
|E. Watson, PG||29||3-7||0-0||2||9||2||6|
|W. Szczerbiak, SF||31||7-11||1-2||5||2||4||18|
|L. Ridnour, PG||24||5-12||0-0||2||11||1||10|
|C. Wilcox, PF||17||6-9||0-1||9||1||1||12|
|D. West, SG||9||1-2||0-0||2||0||0||2|
|J. Petro, C||4||0-1||0-0||0||0||2||0|
|R. Swift, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Wilkins, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Gelabale, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. Sene, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|