NBA highlights - Kobe guides Lakers to big win
Kobe Bryant scored 40 points as the Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Orlando Magic 100-75 in the opening game of the NBA Finals at the Staples Centre.
The Lakers guard scored 18 of his points in the third quarter as LA raced away from the Magic.
"Offensively he was amazing," said Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who added 11 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
Orlando's star Dwight Howard scored just 12 points as they struggled in the first of the best-of-seven series.
Howard made just one of six shots as the Lakers defence smothered the centre, who averaged 25.8 points a game in their Eastern Conference finals win over Cleveland.
The Lakers have not won a title since 2002 and Bryant is looking to show he can lead the California club to the top of the NBA after losing to the Boston Celtics in the Finals last year.
Bryant has won three championships but all of them were during the years when Shaquille O'Neal was considered the Lakers' star player.
"I just want it so bad, that's all," the 30-year-old Bryant said. "I just want it really bad. You just put everything you have into the game and your emotions kind of flow out of you.
"I feel great. This is the best I've felt late in the season in my whole career. I feel outstanding."
Bryant also had eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks in a dominating performance.
Odom added: "When he gets it going, he's one of the best players of all-time. There isn't anything he can't do. We understand how much he wants this, how bad he wants to win this championship. We all want it."
Howard admitted the Magic will struggle to stop the Lakers if Bryant, his team-mate during the USA's gold-winning success at the Beijing Olympics, carries on such form.
"When he's got everything going, every shot in the world, [there's] nothing we can do about that.
"All we can do is play harder, play more aggressive. On the defensive end, go for more loose balls. We can control that stuff.
"But somebody making those unbelievable shots, there's nothing we can do about it."
Lakers forward Pau Gasol scored 16 and had eight rebounds, while Mickael Pietrus top scored for the Magic with 14 points.
The second game takes place in LA on Sunday before the series moves on to Orlando.