No one could have predicted the Lakers would do what they have after their horrific preseason, but here they are, atop the Pacific Division.
Tonight's game against San Antonio will make 16 of their first 20 in Staples Center. Starting Tuesday in Dallas, they'll play 22 of their next 34 on the road, taking them to the All-Star break.
The question is whether they can take their Staples chemistry with them. If Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum have been surprises, it still depends primarily on their stars.
Kobe Bryant has been a model of restraint as he tries to get his legs under him and Lamar Odom has been more assertive than ever in their two-plus seasons together. Now they have to do it on the road when losses mount, nerves fray, Bryant is tempted to take over and Odom is tempted to watch.
-- MARK HEISLER