The Lakers beat the Clippers 116-103, are they better than expected?

Let’s be realistic, the Lakers won’t play at home every night, or shoot 48.3 percent from behind the arc and their bench won’t score 76 points (including all 41 of their points in the fourth quarter) every game, but you can’t deny that they played extremely well against the Clippers and they might be better than expected.

Pay per head services were impressed by the play of Xavier Henry, who struggled in his first three seasons in the league after getting drafted 12th overall in the 2010 draft. The former New Orleans Hornet scored a career-high 22 points and added six rebounds, two assists and a steal last night, while Pau Gasol had 15 points, four assists and a game-high 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes.

A total of 11 Lakers saw time on the court last night and they all hustled, fought and contributed in one way or another. It was a collective effort unlike the lack of heart seen on last year’s team. This year’s Lakers are younger and scrappier as the roster is made up of people looking for a new beginning in the league.

The Lakers still have too many questions about the health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash but they will be more fun to watch than last year’s train wreck and if they keep playing with joy and energy and Kobe takes his time to fully recover, don’t be surprised if the Lakers become a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.