NBA Report: That’s All She Wrote — Lakers, Kobe Bryant Set To Three-Peat

Off an easy 113-96 victory last night at Madison Square Garden the Los Angeles Lakers continue their inexorable climb to the top of the NBA power charts setting themselves up for another ticker tape run that only a couple of months ago was looking more than a little far-fetched.

The team most of Southern California loves so dearly broke out of the 2010/2011 gates with eight straight wins, and all seemed typically delightful. But a middling of 13 wins and 10 losses ensued, and endless, worrisome questions about the two-time world champs were suddenly being bandied about.

Is Kobe still dominant? Can Bynum ever stay healthy? Is Ron Artest, lacking any semblance of an offensive game, worth the court time?

Was "Fish" (veteran point guard Derek Fisher) simply ready to be buried at sea?

The wink, wink around the NBA was that the Lakers were not only shy of being the league's best team, but might only be third best in the West behind San Antonio and Dallas, who were both off to sustained red-hot starts.

But the Lakers kept their L.A. cool—what else?—coach Phil Jackson implanted a few critical Zen needles and now here we are in mid February with the team healthy, red hot themselves off a momentum-building 17-6 run, situating them perfectly to run another postseason table and re-familiarize fans and doubters alike with the Pat Riley trademark phrase—Three-Peat.

It won't come easy, the Spurs, in particular, mean business and off a 44-9 start, it's hard to argue with the team's relative merits. But when push comes to shove, the Spurs big three, Parker, Ginobli and a revived Tim Duncan, won't be able to contain the Lakers even bigger three, Gasol, Bynum and, of course, Kobe Bryant. Artest will shut down someone, Lamar Odom will be an impossible cover and high-flying Shannon Brown will continue to make his presence felt on ESPN highlight reels with critical contributions off the bench. ...

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