Kobe Returns, Bynum Impresses in Lakers Final Preseason Game

The Lakers closed out the preseason with a win over the artists formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics by a count of 105-94. Kobe Bryant returned from the hyperextended knee he suffered two games ago, and looked like the old Kobe right from the get go. He opened up the game by hitting two three-pointers and had a nice assist to Pau Gasol before calling it a night after just eight minutes of action. Kobe spent the rest of the evening getting treatment on the knee as a precaution, but by all accounts it's just fine and he'll be ready to go when the team opens the season on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Afterward, Phil Jackson commented on the decision to let Kobe play, and had this to say when told "skeptics" might have rested him until the regular season.

"Those are skeptics. That's what they do. They skepticize," he said. "When a guy's played for as long as this guy's played for, he understands his body and knows what he's about. If he wants to try it out, you let him do it."

Lesson learned: Do not skepticize on Phil Jackson.

Besides Kobe, the rest of the team really couldn't have looked sharper offensively. In their final preseason tuneup, they shot 55% from the field, and particularly impressive was the play of Andrew Bynum. He was able to get loose to catch several lob passes that ended up as dunks or lay-ins at the rim, and he contributed on the defensive end as well. Bynum finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots in 29 minutes of action.

The Lakers' bench continued to impress, with Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza doing most of the damage for the second unit. Farmar had 14 points and five assists in just 20 minutes, and Ariza contributed 10 points and eight rebounds, along with at least one ridiculous dunk for the highlight reel. Sasha Vujacic also returned to action, after missing most of training camp with an ankle injury. He was able to play 22 minutes, and also hit his first basket of the preseason.

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