Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports:

Kobe has extra motivation to beat Celtics

Kobe Bryant should be motivated more than any Laker in the series that tips off Thursday in L.A., since he missed 15 of 22 shots in that Game 6. From then until the Lakers defeated Orlando last June, Bryant heard that he could not carry a team to a title without Shaquille O’Neal.

“The Celtics challenged us two years ago,” Bryant said. “Now it’s a test to see how much we’ve grown.”

But this is a much different Laker team. To counter the Celtics’ frontcourt size, they’ll need center Andrew Bynum, who has been slowed by a knee injury and did not play in the playoffs in ‘08.