Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives past Cavaliers guard Anthony Parker in… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Mike Brown wasn't overly sentimental about it.
He won everything but a championship in his five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, got fired and moved on.
There are bigger issues in the world, he said, than an NBA coach losing his job.
Of course, it's easy to put a positive spin on just about anything these days given the way things are going for Brown's Lakers and their superstar.
Kobe Bryant wowed again with 42 points Friday night at Staples Center during the Lakers' 97-92 victory, making Brown a winner in his first game against Cleveland since the Cavaliers fired him after the 2010 season.
Bryant made 15 of 31 shots, including four of seven three-point attempts, continuing a superlative stretch in which he has collected 40 points or more in three consecutive games. It's been a while since Bryant sustained this kind of performance, erupting for five consecutive games with at least 40 points from March 16-25, 2007.
"The shots I was getting, they were in my spots," said Bryant, who noted that his sore right wrist was "getting a lot better" and had served as motivation for his scoring spree.
Bryant's final basket Friday came on a turnaround jumper that gave the Lakers an 89-81 lead with 2 minutes 55 seconds left, providing a comfortable cushion after Cleveland had winnowed a 19-point deficit to three midway through the fourth quarter.
"It's always good to have a guy like Kobe Bryant in your back pocket," Brown said, "when you have to try to figure out a way to win ugly games."
Pau Gasol added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their fifth consecutive game and improved to 8-0 at home since a season-opening loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Not everything went perfectly for the Lakers, who learned Steve Blake could be lost for up to a month after the reserve point guard sustained a fracture of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum earlier this week.
Metta World Peace also did not play for the Lakers as a precaution after reporting a sore Achilles' tendon earlier in the day.
The Lakers' bench productivity suffered in their absence, the team's reserves combining for only four points.
Still, the Lakers weren't quite as short-handed as they had been in the previous two games, getting back forwards Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono. McRoberts had missed six games with a sore toe on his left foot.
Brown's teams won 50 or more games in four of his five seasons with Cleveland, reaching the 2007 NBA Finals. It wasn't enough for owner Dan Gilbert, who fired Brown after the Cavaliers lost a two-games-to-one lead against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Brown said playing against his old team was easier because the game was not in Cleveland and the Cavaliers have retained only a handful of players from when he coached there. The Lakers will not play at Cleveland this season as part of their lockout-shortened schedule.
Guard Daniel Gibson, one of the holdovers from Brown's last Cavaliers team, hailed his onetime coach in a hallway as Brown spoke with reporters before the game.
"Boobie, what's up, buddy?" Brown said, embracing Gibson. "You're playing well. Hey, try not to play well tonight, though."
Gibson complied for the most part, scoring nine points on three-for-10 shooting on a night that belonged to Brown and Bryant.