Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 27 points on Friday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers got the post-Mike Brown era off on the right foot with a resounding 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.
Brown was fired earlier on Friday in the wake of a dismal 1-4 start for a team which many national pundits pegged as the favorites to win the Western Conference.
"It's been a long day," Bryant admitted. "We were all surprised with the news. We just had to go about our business."
Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff coached Los Angeles to victory on Friday, but the team announced the search for a permanent replacement would begin immediately, with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson and former Knicks bench boss Mike D'Antoni emerging as the frontrunners.
"I had butterflies, but I enjoyed myself," Bickerstaff remarked. "Every body had a little pep in their step. We made some progress."
On the court, Bryant added nine rebounds and seven assists, while Pau Gasol recorded a double-double with 14 points and 16 boards to help the Lakers earn their fifth consecutive victory over the Warriors.
Stephen Curry paced Golden State with 18 points and five assists and Klay Thompson chipped in 15 points for the Warriors, who have alternated wins and losses through the first six games.
"They dominated us on the offensive boards," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We had too many turnovers. We just didn't take care of the basketball."
The Warriors remained close early on and trailed just 23-22 after 12 minutes of play.
David Lee opened the second with a layup to put the visitors in front, but Antawn Jamison buried a triple at the other end to spark a 10-2 surge from Los Angeles, as the Lakers grabbed a 33-26 lead with just under eight minutes remaining until halftime.
Golden State scored the next five points to pull within two, but the Warriors didn't score a bucket from the field over the next six-plus minutes and were outscored 14-5 until Curry's pullup jumper with less than 15 seconds left sent the visitors into the locker room facing a 47-38 deficit.
The Warriors scored the first seven points of the second half to pull within two yet again, but the Lakers responded with a decisive 17-5 swing, including nine from Bryant to build a 64-50 lead with just under three minutes left in the third.
The advantage ballooned to 72-55 after three frames and peaked at 28 in the fourth as the Lakers cruised to the double-digit victory.
Jamison finished with six points and seven rebounds ... Lee recorded a double- double with 10 points and 12 boards ... Los Angeles scored 23 second-chance points compared to just 10 for Golden State ... The Lakers shot 40 percent from the field and held the Warriors to 33.7 percent shooting.