At the end of his team’s first-round playoff loss in May, Kobe Bryant said the Los Angeles Lakers needed to spread out their offense. The NBA’s scoring champion probably didn’t envision the Lakers would need to do it without him.
The Lakers look to remain unbeaten when they play the first game of a weekend home-and-home series with the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday at the Staples Center.
Bryant has missed the first two games of the season as rehabilitates a surgically repaired right knee. The Lakers (2-0) hope to have him back sometime this weekend, either in Friday’s game or Sunday’s contest in Seattle.
Bryant averaged a league-high 35.4 points last season and made up more than one-third of the Lakers’ points. However, in the decisive Game 7 of a first-round playoff series against Phoenix, Bryant scored only one point in the second half of a 121-90 defeat.
“If we were going to get back in this type of game, we have to have everybody contributing,” Bryant said.
Without Bryant, four Lakers have scored in double figures in each of this week’s two victories. Los Angeles defeated the Suns 114-106 in the season-opener on Tuesday, led by Lamar Odom’s 34 points and 13 rebounds.
Odom then scored 22 points in Wednesday’s 110-98 win over Golden State, but reserve forward Ronny Turiaf led the team with a career-high 23 points off the bench.
Turiaf played in just 23 games with the Lakers as a rookie last season, averaging two points and 1.6 rebounds.
“We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things,” said assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who is filling in as head coach while Phil Jackson recovers from hip surgery. “If we can get them to understand their potential and their ability to work together, I think we’re going to have a really good ballclub.”
Odom played well against Seattle last season, averaging 18.7 points in three games versus the Sonics, including two double-doubles. The Lakers won two of those three meetings.
The teams have split 12 meetings at the Staples Center since 2000.
The Sonics (0-1) lost their season opener 110-106 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Seattle trailed by two points with nine seconds left, but Ray Allen missed an open 3-pointer and Damien Wilkins missed a putback attempt.
Allen shot just 3-for-7 in the first half, but went 6-for-13 from the field after halftime to finish with 22 points.
Seattle allowed Portland to shoot 54.8 percent from the floor, and also committed 25 fouls which led to 28 points for the Blazers.
“We didn’t do the things we needed to win and that’s a trend we can’t start,” said Sonics forward Nick Collison, who had two points and two rebounds one night after signing a multi-year contract extension. “That’s the difference between a good team and a mediocre team in this league.”
The teams meet again on Sunday at Key Arena for the second of four meetings this season.