Kobe Bryant playing with great efficiency this season

Bryant is shooting 51 percent overall so far this season (his previous career best was 46.9 percent in 2001-02), 41.5 percent from the 3-point line (his previous career best was 38.3 percent in 2002-03) and 87.4 percent from the foul line (his previous career best was 86.8 percent in 2006-07). He also has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of the Lakers’ 14 games, so his accuracy has been consistent. And with 17.1 percent of the season in the books, the sample size has grown to the point that this can’t be just an aberration.

So, where does the credit go? How does Bryant jump from shooting just 43 percent overall last season — his worst shooting mark since his second season in the league, back in 1997-98 — to his best marksmanship as a 34-year-old?

“I think the system has a lot to do with it,” Bryant said Monday. “The floor is spaced out a little bit more. I can penetrate to the basket and get to the free throw line a lot more.”

He is averaging 7.92 free throw attempts per game this season, up from 7.77 a game last season. The improvement isn’t dramatic in that category, but Bryant seems to have adopted the mental standpoint that slashing opportunities are there for him whenever he wants them, whereas last season, he would have Andrew Bynum and his defenders clogging up the paint.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles