Lakers blow out Magic

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom and Orlando Magic guard Mickael Pietrus battle for a rebound during Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals Thursday in Los Angeles.<BR><I>AP?Photo</i>

LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant may as well spend the night at Staples Center. So focused on winning an NBA title, he's not much fun to be around these days.

"My kids call me Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs," the Los Angeles superstar said, flashing maybe the only smile he has shown in days. "That's how I've been at home, just a grouch."

On Thursday night, Bryant turned the Orlando Magic into a bunch of Dopeys.

Disneyland 1, Disney World 0.

Bryant had 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers took their first step toward redemption after last year's finals failure against Boston by throttling the overwhelmed Magic 100-75 in Game 1.

Bryant, unleashing a year's worth of frustration, dismantled the Magic's defense with his highest scoring effort in 27 games in the finals.

"We only made 23 shots," Orlando's Dwight Howard said. "Kobe made 16 by himself."

This series means more to Bryant than the others. After missing a chance at his fourth championship - and first without former teammate Shaquille O'Neal - last season, the 30-year-old guard doesn't want another to slip by.

The Olympic gold medal last summer was nice. Not nearly enough.

He wants a ring to go with it.

"I just want it so bad, that's all," Bryant said. "I just want it really bad."

Game 2 is Sunday night at star-studded Staples Center, where actors Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and other Hollywood types had front-row seats to see another virtuoso performance by Bryant, who scored 18 points in the third quarter as the Lakers opened a 26-point lead and embarrassed the Magic.

Orlando couldn't stop Bryant.

Jumpers, fadeaways, layups. He made them all.

"They were giving me jumpers," Bryant said. "So I took them."

The last time the Lakers were seen in the finals, they were heading toward their locker room in Boston last June and summer break after being drubbed by 39 points by the Celtics in a series-ending Game 6. The renewed rivalry between the league's superpowers never panned out.

Bryant and his teammates have used that humiliation to motivate them all season and throughout these playoffs.

They are on a mission, but Bryant warned it's far from accomplished.

"It's one game," Bryant said. "No big deal."

The Magic, who went 2-0 against the Lakers in the regular season, were outclassed in their first finals appearance since 1995.


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