Dominant Kobe Bryant Ready to Join LA Lakers’ Chemistry and Commit to Passing

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On a rainy night in the old barn that Kobe Bryant loves because it reminds him of high school as much as it does some of his greatest games as a pro, the L.A. Lakers gave the NBA something nearly as pure as those innocent days.

Remember when you trusted your coach, loved hanging out with your teammates and just felt right with the world when your team won?

The Los Angeles Lakers certainly do.

The Lakers rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter—roaring to life when Mike D’Antoni went Bobby Knight on them at that low point in a 20-second timeout—and beat the Sacramento Kings on Friday night in Sleep Train Arena.

The Lakers’ locker room was filled with smiles and good-natured ribbing in every corner afterward. The game had been played just hours after Bryant’s self-aggrandizing “THE LEGEND CONTINUES” Facebook video announced his hugely anticipated return from the Achilles tendon tear would come in the Lakers’ next game Sunday.

And the question becomes: After the Lakers have showed themselves to be a winning team without Bryant (10-9), will the ultimate Laker, so often criticized for selfishness, now introduce disease…or find the established harmonious teamwork infectious?

Pau Gasol, who got the double-wide, stand-alone “star” locker near the fridge that surely will go to Bryant next time the Lakers inhabit Sacramento’s visiting locker room, had been able to grind through his ankle pain to make plays at both ends at crunch time.

With his meek 42 percent shooting this season, Gasol hasn’t been able to carry the team, but his teammates have helped him get by, and he has been their valuable voice of reason.

“This group is just really playing together,” Gasol said. “Really good chemistry. It’s been really fun so ...

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