Lakers Today: 12/20/07

The Lakers roll into Cleveland tonight possessing the 4th best record in the West, a goal which they set for themselves at the start of the season.

As it always is when the Lakers take on the Cavs, the spotlight is on Kobe and LeBron.

For Kobe it’s a “been there, done that” thing.

Bryant says he’s not caught up in the hype that comes with the matchup.

“It’s no difference for me than it is playing against everybody else,” said Bryant, 29. “I’ve been through so many of these…

“This is my 12th year. See what I’m saying? So it does nothing for me.”

Keep reading Brad Turner’s piece for Charles Barkley’s comments and more LeBron/Kobe comparisons.

As Kevin Ding notes, LeBron is in a different place:

James is in a different place. He was just named Forbes Magazine’s No. 1 earner among stars younger than 25, a list that included Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at No. 5. (Reggie Bush, Maria Sharapova and Michelle Wie were in between James and the Olsen twins.)

James turns 23 on Dec. 30, but he had an early birthday party at a New York nightclub Tuesday night — even though the struggling Cavaliers were in the midst of a stretch of five games in seven nights that is their most tiring of the season.

The Cavs then went out and got worked over to the tune of an 18-point loss against the woeful Knicks. At least the King won’t have to worry about pulling gray hairs anytime soon–Kobe does.

Excitement in Lakerland is peaking with the 15-9 start, but to Phil and Kobe, it’s just a start. According to Derek Fisher, the third youngest team in the league has been steadied by an ever-maturing Kobe throughout the season.

Fisher spent last season with the Utah Jazz and the previous two with the Golden State Warriors after leaving the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2004. He re-signed with the Lakers last summer and rejoined Bryant in the backcourt.

“My observations, for sure, are that he’s a different individual,” Fisher said of Bryant. “He’s grown and matured. I personally can’t imagine coming into this (NBA) world at 18 or 19 years old, trying to maneuver around with all the things you have to figure out, and do it at the level of stardom that he was at coming out of high school.”