Grading L.A. Lakers with Kobe Bryant Injured Once Again

There may be no better replacement for Kobe Bryant than a healthy dose of "swaggy." And I'm not just talking about Swaggy P.

Led by "Swaggy" Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers ran away from the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night on the way to a 104-91 victory.

Gasol had 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds.

The defining moment of the game came in the middle of the fourth quarter. After the Lakers' offense had been stagnant for a few possessions, Gasol knocked down an unexpected, and huge three to push the lead to 95-89 with 3:58 left in the game.

Gasol took off down the floor toward Nick Young (who had 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting), smiling as he performed his teammate's patented three-pointer celebration.

It was a moment that perfectly exemplified what the Lakers were before Kobe came back, and what they were Friday: uptempo, unpredictable and fun.

It's a brand of basketball that's been pretty effective this season. After all, the team is now 11-9 without Kobe, as opposed to 2-4 with him.

It's not fair to put all the blame on Bryant for the struggles though. The Lakers play a completely different style without him. He commands the ball and integrating him was going to take more than six games.

It's something that has been put on hold again with his latest injury. 

Credit the rest of the Lakers for so fluidly returning to their old form without him. This report card will reflect that, just maybe with a little less swag.


Lakers' Offense Without Kobe: A

The Lakers averaged 97.2 points per game with Kobe in the lineup. That was good for 19th in the NBA during that timeframe.

A big part of the offensive struggle was that the Lakers played at a slower pace in those six games. They tried to operate in the half court, with Kobe at point gu...

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