The Lakers beating the Nuggets 89-78 in the season opener for both clubs is not as big a surprise as Kobe Bryant getting it done on only 14 shots from the field. Or No. 8’s willingness to bend over backwards to get his new teammates involved in the offense, in particular newly acquired Chris Mihm, who up until now, was not regularly compared to the game’s great big men. The LA Times’ T.J. Simers elaborates.

Oh, wouldn’t you have liked to have seen the look on Shaq’s face as he took a gander at Mihm’s first-half statistics: 19 points to lead all scorers, five of six free throws and nine rebounds. FIVE OF SIX free throws.

How much fun would it have been there to sit there with him and chat about Bryant’s first-half contribution: eight points, four field-goal attempts and four assists. The ultimate team player. The Lakers following in step behind their new leader and running out to a 19-point lead. Thanks for the memories, Shaq.

IF BRYANT can put Mihm in the Basketball Hall of Fame he will definitely go down as the greatest player to ever play the game.

Mihm did a lot of nothing while playing for Cleveland and Boston, but right now you have to give Bryant this: He’s already shown the basketball world for one night on national TV that he’s more than willing to go inside if the big man is willing to run up and down the court and play with enthusiasm. He sure knows how to hit Shaq where it hurts.

It helps, of course, playing a team like the Nuggets, which must not have gotten word the regular season has begun. Denver played like it was having problems with the altitude, no one rising to the occasion to match the above-the-rim play of Mihm, whose career high for an entire game before getting together with Bryant was 21 points ” against the Clippers, of course.

Mihm had a career high-22 points after three quarters of play ” I wonder if Shaq was still awake. And Bryant had 18 with a quarter to play. Yes sir, how funny would it be this season to hear folks talk about one of the great tandems in basketball: Kobe & Chris.

Right about now, of course, Shaq probably has something he’d like to say in response, but who cares?