The Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 120-114 without Kobe Bryant. Bryant retired after spending his entire 20-year career in L.A., and the farewell tour and all the Staples Center fanfare that came with it is over. Guard D'Angelo Russell doesn't appear to miss it.
"I'll tell you what it felt like: It felt like a home game," Russell told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. "Last year, we had Kobe and the fans. We had some die-hard Lakers fans, and Kobe fans. But we had so many guys who didn't have identities for the fans to recognize. But today, it felt like a home game.
"You go to Utah, or Houston – and they're rooting for their team. Here, this is the home of the NBA. People come to the see the show, too. Don't get me wrong: They're all Lakers fans, they're incredible, but they want to see the show, too."
As Wojnarowski notes, the 20-year-old Russell is one of several young players tasked with making the Lakers a team Angelenos will cheer for, along with Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, who scored 18 and 25 points, respectively, on Wednesday. It wasn't quite Showtime basketball, but there's promise for the young core.
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