Kobe Bryant's always so conservative with his views. So meek. Timid.

"It's not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will," Bryant told Sports Illustrated. "And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that."

He didn't mention the Clippers, but that's another story for another day.

The most repetitive, boring question of the Lakers' season was raised again Thursday: Was their victory Wednesday the start of a trend or a momentary burst before a relapse into the same old stuff?

They clobbered the Boston Celtics, honoring late owner Jerry Buss the best way they could on an emotional, energetic night at Staples Center.

"I don't want to get into, like, 'Reset: Volume 6' or whatever we're on now," Steve Nash said. "But we've just got to keep building."

The top development against Boston was Dwight Howard's openness to working in screen-and-roll sets after cajoling from Nash and Bryant.

"For me, it's been great because he's been hungrier," Nash said. "He's seeking it out, looking to try to find my guy and run up and set good picks."

Howard was a force from the start in the Lakers' 113-99 victory, scoring 12 points in his first 11 minutes. He finished with 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

Howard said his improvement in pick-and-roll plays was as simple as setting more thorough screens.

"The [Lakers] coaches wanted me to set screens that was kind of different from what I did in Orlando ... they were saying you really don't have to hit the guy, just get a piece of him and then get out," Howard said. "The lesson I've been getting back to is really hitting that guard and making him aware of screens. Teams start worrying about the pick-and-roll more."