When the Lakers' offense would get in a rut, Phil Jackson would move Kobe Bryant from the wing to the backcourt in the triangle offense and essentially force Bryant to shift his mentality from pure scorer to team playmaker.

Mike D'Antoni can do that, too. And he has.

D'Antoni muttered a week ago: "The ball sticks, and we don't take very good shots." But with Bryant taking over much of the ball-handling duties from D'Antoni's longtime and all-time great point guard Steve Nash, the Lakers have morphed the past two games into a cohesive, winning unit.

Bryant posted 14 assists — one shy of his 17-year career high — for the second consecutive game in the Lakers' best victory of the season Sunday: They downed Western Conference favorite Oklahoma City, 105-96.

Asked if he was enjoying all the passing, Bryant said: "I enjoy winning."

Bryant was actually irate with Pau Gasol for not taking an open shot Bryant set up for him with two minutes left. But the Lakers held on anyway, with one Lakers fan heard squealing inside Staples Center down the stretch: "We're gonna win!"

The 19-25 Lakers have had a lot of downs and false revelations this season, but Bryant said this time: "This feels a little different. Feels like we found an identity."

The Lakers enjoyed some edges going into this game, including it being the last game of Oklahoma City's six-game trip, but they had to play good enough defense to take advantage against what D'Antoni called "probably the best team in the league."