Lakers Today: 01/15/08

With seven wins in a row–the longest active streak in the league–the Lakers currently sit tied with Phoenix atop the Western Conference standings after last night’s thrilling overtime victory over the Sonics.

“Tonight was just one of those games where I had to kind of read the mood of the team, and us being a little deflated with Drew going down and being on a back-to-back and coming on the road,” Bryant said. “It was just one of those things where I just wanted to be a little more assertive.”

Although news that Andrew Bynum will miss at least eight weeks due to injury may have distracted the team in last night’s game, General Manager Mitch Kupchak was happy the prognosis is only eight weeks.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “As long as I’ve been around, I’ve seen a lot of knee injuries. You never want a knee injury that alters a career. We’re fortunate that surgery is not needed and we’ll have him return this year.

With only 14 players under contract, the Lakers could sign a big man like Chris Webber or P.J. Brown to help fill the void left by Andrew.

“We’re going to look at replacement players and if there is a way to get another big player that can help us win games,” Kupchak said. “Can you replace Andrew? Of course not. The list is short on the kind of players that if you picked them up, they would play and help you win, but we’ll look at it.”

Webber’s agent Aaron Goodwin confirmed that the Lakers have spoken to him about his possible interest in playing for L.A.

“We’ve talked to the Lakers organization several times prior to Andrew’s unfortunate injury,” said Webber’s agent, Aaron Goodwin. “Obviously, they’re a much better team with Andrew playing than they are without him. I think [Webber] will make a decision where he’s going to play this week.”

With uncertainty surrounding the Lakers after Andrew went down, Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times says that the honeymoon is officially over.

However, their honeymoon is over and some of their big pieces have a tendency to move around. With the Lakers playing 27 games in the eight weeks Bynum is expected to miss, nothing is safe. A half a game from first place in the West when Bynum left, they’re only four ahead of No. 10 Utah, a rising power that won 51 games last season.

ESPN columnist J.A. Adande predicts that the Lakers will fall from the top of the Western Conference standings while Bynum is out, but says that Bryant’s newfound faith in the center is the more important development.

The newsworthy part came afterward, in an on-court interview with KCAL TV, in which he talked about injured center Andrew Bynum. Bryant called Bynum a “terrific, terrific player,” then dropped this quote: “We’re a championship-caliber team when he’s in the lineup.”

Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports talks about Kobe’s 48 points on 44 shots last night, uncovering the reason why Bryant’s large number of shot attempts against Seattle doesn’t necessarily mean he shot too much.

Why? Because the shot attempts were misleading: Kobe took a series of really, really good shots that rimmed out. Even if he hits half those shots, we might be looking at a 60-point night. He wasn’t a ballhog, he wasn’t being selfish, and he wasn’t getting to the line because the SuperSonics can’t be bothered to foul teams.