Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/17/12
LOS ANGELES -- Following the Lakers' NBA Trade Deadline makeover Thursday and a 97-92 win over Minnesota Friday night, Matt Barnes didn't waste time in getting right to the point. "It's different," said the Laker forward of the trades that sent three of his teammates to different teams. "Luke (Walton's) and Jason (Kapono's) locker were right next to mine, and Fish (Derek Fisher) and I being really close; it's tough. And losing Lamar (Odom) earlier in the season showed what kind of business this really is." The Lakers, however, responded to another challenge in a season full of them. The victory over the Timberwolves gives L.A. a five-game winning streak. They're a league-best 19-2 at home and 28-16 overall. It certainly wasn't easyat least from an emotional standpoint. It was the first time Fisher had been out of the Lakers' starting lineup in over five years, and former reserve point guard Steve Blake got the start. Ramon Sessions, acquired from Cleveland for Walton and Kapono, came off the bench and filled up the stat sheet in his first game as a Laker. In 19 minutes, Sessions scored seven points, handed off five assists and grabbed four rebounds in his first game as a Laker, wearing Odom's old number 7. He was extremely quicksomething long missing from the point guard positionand was able to drive the ball and pass off nearly at will. After Saturday's practice, coach Mike Brown will decide if Sessions becomes the starting PG for Sunday's game against Utah. Blake was unimpressive in the start, going scoreless with six assists in 29 minutes. Sessions said he was thrilled to be tradedespecially to the Lakerswhere he feels he'll have a legitimate chance to start for a team chasing a championship. And play in the same backcourt as Kobe Bryant. "I wasn't nervous at all," said the 25-year old, "just anxious to get out on the court here at STAPLES Center. This is one of the mega-capitals of the world when it comes to basketball, and it just feels good. "(Playing with Kobe) is a dream come true. You know, Kobe, Pau (Gasol) and (Andrew) Bynum are great players and they make things so much easier for me. I'm leaning on their voice of experience and I'm going to take advantage of it." Bryant was very impressed with his new running mate. "Man he's fast," Kobe said after scoring a game-high 28 points. "He get's in the lane, and as you saw he can make things happen. He's a guy teams are going have to (deal with), because once he gets into the lane he can dish or he can score with the best of them." But for Bryant, Friday was the first day of the rest of his career without close friend Fisher as a teammate. The President of the NBA Players Association hasn't yet reported to Houston, where he was traded for forward Jordan Hill, thus keeping Hill inactive until Sunday night. "It's really strange for me not to have (Derek) out there," Bryant said. "We came into the league together and we went through a lot, so it's been really, really strange. "On the personal side it's been a tough year, first with Lamar going then with D Fish going. I'll tell you, it's a little awkward. "I was shocked just like everybody else. I felt (bad) for Derek, and I talked to him many times yesterdayLuke, too. (Fish) and I have always been close and we'll continue to be close. "But it's tough....very tough." From a purely basketball standpoint, though, the trade of Fisher and the acquisition of Sessions makes the Lakers a much more formidable opponent in the Western Conference. They're in third place in the conference standings, trailing Oklahoma City and San Antonio, and they now have the quickness on both ends of the floor to contend with Russell West brook and Tony Parker, who blaze up and down the hardwood. And if former first round pick Hill proves he's indeed worthy of being the ninth overall choice out of Arizona in 2009, the Lakers will gain strength and quickness on the front line. Nonetheless, it won't be easy to forget about number 2, who hit so many big baskets for the Purple and Gold. "To lose someone like Fishwho was a cornerstone for our franchiseit's really tough. But we've still got to play the games and hopefully win a championship."
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