"They had won 19 straight games, so they were due for a couple of bad ones," Bryant said Sunday night after scoring 31 points in Los Angeles' 130-113 romp over the Golden State Warriors. "For us, we just wanted to move on. We were ready to go. We knew what we had to do, so it was pretty easy for us to switch gears and come out and perform."
While the Lakers breezed to a win in their first game since a 92-83 victory over defending NBA champion Boston on Christmas Day, the Celtics stumbled again the following night and lost 99-89 at Golden State. They got back on track Sunday, pounding the Kings 108-63 at Sacramento.
Bryant understands the momentum changes.
"It's a long season, so people go through emotions and things," he said. "It's just an energy thing, because it's such a long season. I don't think people truly understand how long it is, because of the travel and things like that. So you have ups and downs."
Warriors coach Don Nelson said even before playing the Lakers that they were the league's best team. After the loss, he obviously had no reason to change his mind.
"They have the whole package and they have a chance to win the whole thing this year," he said.
He considers Bryant's expanded role a big part of that.
"Kobe now has a grasp on the game like no other player and he controls it when he wants to," Nelson said. "He makes the players alongside him succeed and he is a real leader out there.
"He has the whole package going for him; he is not just the best player in the league but, probably the best leader," he said.
Jamal Crawford returned to the Warriors' lineup after missing two games with a groin strain and scored 22 points. Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright had 14 points apiece, and Andris Biedrins had eight points and 17 rebounds.
"Our defense wasn't even close to what we had against Boston and it definitely showed," said the Warriors Stephen Jackson, who scored nine points. "We didn't approach the game the same way we did the Boston game. We had more intensity, were up for that game and we weren't today."
Los Angeles took control with a 37-point third quarter that increased the lead from 65-58 at halftime to 102-85 heading into the final period.
- The Warriors finished with 17 turnovers that Los Angeles converted into 31 points. The Lakers had 16 turnovers that were turned into 17 points.
- The Warriors are still without leading scorer Corey Maggette (19.1 ppg), who has missed 12 games with a strained hamstring.
- The Warriors and Lakers split four games last season.