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The coolest new thing at Staples Center is that it feels like the old Fabulous Forum.

Call it throwback lighting — for the Halloween home opener the Lakers dimmed the lights on the crowd and hung special new lights to brighten the court. They called it “Lights Out,” but we long-time fans (I guess in transient LA remembering something from a decade ago counts as long-time) thought it felt like the Forum.

There are a lot of things to like better about Staples Center (for example, the food) but at the Forum the focus was on the court. With the new lighting the crowd reacted differently; the building just felt more alive. Old-timers weren’t the only ones loving it apparently — the new/old lighting proved so popular that they are keeping it for the rest of the season.

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Now they just need to bring back Dancing Barry.

Of course, part of the reason the focus was always on the court at the Forum was that the best players and often the best team in the league called it home. The 2006 Lakers should get their best player, Kobe, back tonight. He said the knee felt great after practice yesterday; of course that’s what he said leading up to the opener then put up a note on his Web site a couple hours before the game changing his mind. So, don’t wait up for him.

The rest of the Lakers aren’t waiting — Lamar Odom played maybe his best two games as a Laker, second year guys Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf stepped up and the Lakers are off to a fast 2-0 start. Just like the old days at the Forum it was team basketball, sharp passing and underrated defense that got the wins. And if they keep playing like that with Kobe back in the lineup, it could feel like the good old days for more reasons than expensive lighting.

AP Photo by Kevork Djansezian