Kobe appreciates Westbrook's intensity

Recently, Kobe Bryant said there’s only one other active NBA player whose intensity matches his own: Russell Westbrook.

“He just plays with a rage that’s not very common,” the Los Angeles Lakers star guard said of Westbrook this week. “He just plays with a lot of aggression.”

The two will face off Friday (ESPN, 7:30 PT) when the Lakers (8-17) host Oklahoma City Thunder (12-14) at Staples Center.

Like Bryant, Lakers coach Byron Scott is a big fan of Westbrook, who is averaging a team-high 26.9 points, 6.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game.

“Everybody talks about Russell being too emotional,” Scott said this week. “I would love to have a guy that’s too emotional and plays as hard as he plays. I would rather have to try to calm a guy down instead of every game try to make a guy play harder.

“Russell’s a unique talent too because he plays every play like it’s his last, and you don’t have a ton of guys in this league that look at the game that way. He’s a special talent too. I love the way he plays. I love his approach to the game.”