The Lakers ran the NBA-best Warriors out of the Staples Center, winning 115-105 even after taking their foot off the gas in the fourth, and they did it all without Kobe Bryant. And everyone not named Kobe Bryant seemed pretty darn happy about it.
Bryant, who had been averaging a team-high 35.4 minutes per game, was given the day off to rest—and it wasn't his decision to make. Coach Byron Scott had been hinting at it for days, but after Bryant looked especially bad in Sunday's loss to Sacramento, after which he complained of tired legs, Scott made the call. "I told Kobe to meet us at the plane tomorrow morning," he said.
There's no easy way to say this, but the Lakers have been statistically and unquestionably better with Kobe off the court. Oh wait: there are lots of easy ways to say it, and Nick Young was totally saying it.
"Some guys just played like 'Django Unchained' — they were free tonight," Young said.
And what would Young tell Bryant?
"Pretty much going to have to tell Kobe to pass me the ball, pass us the ball," Young said. "Tell him to take the backseat for a little bit. He can be 'Driving Miss Daisy' and I can be Miss Daisy and drive."
Others were more circumspect. Wayne Ellington, who got the start in place of Bryant, said declared "we're a good team when we all come out together."
Jeremy Lin, who currently stands as the Laker most likely to be personally and professionally broken by being Bryant's teammate, came oh-so-close to saying something half-interesting.
"We learned a lot about ourselves," said Lin, who finished with 11 points and five assists off the bench.
"I think we learned —"
"I would say it's just another stepping stone."
Even Vlade Divac was hitting his shots:
It was the Lakers' biggest win of the season, and it was the best time anyone's had in that building in months (with that particular logo at center court, anyway). Sometimes parties are about who you don't invite.