Los Angeles Lakers Are For Real: Be Afraid

James SamsonContributor IFebruary 21, 2008

In a good old fashioned Wild Wild West shootout, the Los Angeles Lakers took the Phoenix Suns' best shot then presumed to outplay them down the stretch for a 130-124 victory, with Kobe Bryant scoring 41 points.

The Lakers came into Phoenix with all of the hype surrounding the arrival of Shaq and left with a share of the lead in the Pacific division. They sent a resounding message to the rest of the league: They have arrived and are looking virtually unstoppable.

The highly anticipated debut of Shaquille O'Neal turned into a Lakers coming out party. L.A. and their version of the big three—Kobe, Gasol, and Odom (soon to be big four when Bynum gets back)—combined for 92 points.

This brought a tear of joy to your humble writer my dear friends, for I, like true and loyal Laker fans, have been patiently waiting for someone besides "81 points" to step up in a big game.

Pau Gasol continues to amaze me with his skill and incredible touch. His hook-shot at the end of the third brought memories of "El Capitan". Since joining the Lakers Gasol is shooting an astonishing 65 percent on 13 field goals a game while averaging 22 points.

I knew he was good in Memphis, but never did I imagine him being this good with the Lakers.

Lamar Odom is coming into his own since the Gasol trade, averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists all while shooting 62 percent from the field. He is obviously more relaxed being the third option.

As if there was nothing more to be happy about, my boy Sasha "The Machine" Vujacic has finally shown he is more than just a pesky defender. He is averaging 10 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field since the trade. He and Farmar are the second team's fire-starters.

The Lakers showed last night that they could run and gun with the Suns. On two down-the-stretch possessions Gasol outran Shaq down the floor. Both led to dunks, one for a three point play.

All game long Kobe made minced meat of the Suns' defense. To quote Kobe from awhile back, he was Geppetto and the Suns were his puppets.

Raja Bell, who is known for his defense, should have locked Kobe in the locker room before the game because he got lit up by Bryant. To make matters worse he got K.O. by Shaq's elbow, which by the way is the size of a normal person's knee.

The Lakers have size, speed, strength, outside shooting, great bench play, and oh yeah, someone named Kobe.

The rest of the league was watching last night—whether live or on TiVo, but they were for sure watching. What they saw was a team with the kind of hunger and talent that leads to championship(s).

I know the championship runs through San Antonio, but perhaps with a wrong turn at Albuquerque the route got changed to Los Angeles.