Will Kobe Bryant Fit in with the “New” Lakers?

Okay, so they're not really new.  Mitch Kupchak hasn’t pulled the trigger on any trades thus far.  Maybe I should have called them the "new look" Lakers.

However, one thing is for certain: They are a completely different team without Kobe Bryant and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Bynum.

Before the All-Star break, the Lakers played three games some might have expected them to lose without the two. They went into Portland with a nine-game losing streak at the Rose Garden, not having won there since 2006.

No problem. The Lakers came away with a 99-82 victory.

Just before the break, they traveled to Utah to play the red hot Jazz who carried a nine-game winning streak into the contest. The Lakers had previously lost seven of their last 10 games there.

No problem.  The Lakers whipped the Jazz to the tune of 96-81.

Sandwiched between those two games was a match at Staples Center against their Western Conference rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, who were playing healthy and at full strength.

No problem.  The Lakers unsaddled the Spurs 101-89.

All three games against tough Western Conference foes, and despite playing without Bryant or Bynum, the Lakers won each one by double-digits while also holding their opponents under 90 points.

Needless to say, with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom playing with a vengeance, the Lakers played their three best defensive games of season, if not their three best all-around team performances.

In fact, they were so good that a number of fans called sports radio talk shows or commented on local blogs to propose the idea of going the rest of the way without Bryant.

A trade? Out of the question. Bryant is arguably the greatest NBA player of the past decade. You don’t just cast him aside in favor of Shannon Brown or Jordan Farmar.

The recent performance of these new look Lakers still be...

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