Based on the way the Los Angeles Lakers thumped the Milwaukee Bucks 104-88, there's reason to believe things are finally coming together in L.A.
Kobe Bryant scored 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting, but more impressively, he hounded Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings into an awful 4-of-14 performance.
Dwight Howard put up 31 points and 16 rebounds of his own against a dreadfully overmatched Milwaukee front line. And for the second game in a row, Howard looked like the guy Mitch Kupchak brought over from Orlando.
The Bucks actually stayed reasonably close in the early going, but a 15-point fourth quarter doomed them. Monta Ellis essentially shot his team out of the game, going 6-of-16 from the floor and a stunning 3-of-9 from the foul line. Combined with Jennings' poor effort, the Bucks' guards simply didn't do enough to make any sort of positive impact.
The Lakers' offense was humming (30 assists on 42 baskets) and the defense tightened up, as L.A. allowed the Bucks to shoot just 36 percent from the floor as a team.
From the moment L.A.'s "Big Four" assembled, everyone knew that the team would go as far as its stars could take it. Now, it appears that Howard is rounding into form, Nash is comfortable in the offense (11 assists) and Bryant is primed to continue his late-career renaissance.
If Pau Gasol gives the Lakers anything at all when he returns, watch out. L.A.'s playoff hopes seem very much alive right now.
Final Score: Lakers 104, Bucks 88