On the team plane, Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant sat together, re-watched the Lakers’ 99-90 loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets and dissected his six-for-28 shooting performance.
Yet, they reached conclusions much different from what even the most casual fan found to be completely obvious.
Bryant’s initial reaction after watching the film primarily involved the team’s poor transition defense rather than his shot selection. Brown criticized his own preparation in not conducting intense morning shoot-arounds and lamented the torn ligament in Bryant’s right wrist rather than pointing out his quick trigger.
After Monday’s practice, Bryant remained defiant about his shot selection.
“I’ll do what I do,” he said. “If guys are open, I’ll kick it to them. If they aren’t, I’ll shoot it. I play my game.”
After Monday’s practice, Brown approved that behavior.
“Kobe’s game, after going back and looking at the tape, I’m OK with,” he said.
This all may become moot as early as the Lakers’ game Tuesday against Houston. But both Bryant and Brown set an unsettling precedent for how they might address the team’s offense in the future.
Bryant apparently believes the only adjustment needed involves how to play through the wrist injury, as opposed to tempering his shot when it’s not falling.
“It’s a pain in the . . .” Bryant said.
Brown apparently believes the only adjustment needed involves having more intense morning shoot-arounds and improving his preparation, as opposed to calling out Bryant for his bad shot selection.
“We all could’ve done a better job to win that game,” Brown said. Bryant had demonstrated in the previous game the ideal approach to take when he encounters double teams and a poor shooting night. Though he scored only 17 points on six-for-18 shooting in the Lakers’ 92-89 victory Saturday over Denver, Bryant recorded a near-triple-double with 10 rebounds and nine assists. But Bryant hardly viewed that as a performance to duplicate.
“I had shots so I take them,” Bryant said. “If I shoot the ball 40 times and there’s good looks, that’s what it is. If it’s 15 or 20 times, that’s what it is.”
Brown demonstrated during the exhibition season the ideal approach to coaching Bryant. He tactfully called him out on his poor defense, and the Lakers’ star didn’t take it personally.
But this time, Brown made excuses for him.
“He might not say it, but try to hold a microphone with a torn ligament, let alone shoot it and make sure you get a follow-through,” Brown said. “That’s a bear.”
That’s why it might’ve been a good idea instead to involve the Lakers’ frontcourt more often. After all, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 38 points on 15-for-27 shooting.
Bryant thinks otherwise. “We always start inside-out,” he said. “But for me, if I’m going to shoot less, the answer is no.”
But it should’ve been yes. After all, the problem Brown and Bryant noted with the Lakers’ poor transition defense traces back in part to Bryant’s missed shots. But Brown blamed the other two guards for not getting back on defense.
“We need to make sure we’re holding each other accountable for some of the things we’re not doing right on the floor,” the coach said.
But that apparently doesn’t include Bryant’s poor shot selection.