Things looked pretty ugly for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Tuesday night at home against the Phoenix Suns, but the good news is they are finding new ways to win.
The Lakers edged out the Western Conference’s worst team 91-85, despite getting a four-point performance from the league’s fifth leading scorer Bryant. Bryant’s lone field goal came with just over two minutes to play in a game that saw him go 1-for-8 from the field. The game marked the first of his 17-year career in which he played 36 minutes and only scored one field goal.
For a such a prolific scorer, Bryant was surprisingly pleased with his effort, but was less concerned about the stat sheet and more about the team victory.
“I thought it was great, actually,” Bryant said, according to ESPN.com. “Obviously, scoring four points, going 1-for-8, that’s not necessarily a recipe for success. … But it’s not about us as individuals. It’s about what we can do to help the team.”
Although Bryant did not even attempt a field goal in the entire first half, he did help the team in other ways, dishing out nine assists. However, his eight turnovers likely kept the Suns in the game, proving that the Lakers’ offense is most effective when Bryant is taking control and being more aggressive as a scorer.
“I guess every 17 years, he’s allowed that,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I wouldn’t be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights. He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You’ve got to walk the fine line, and he’s way over the other line. … Just write it off and get to the next one.”
Steve Nash and Metta World Peace picked up the slack, scoring 17 points a piece.
To add to a game full of statistical anomalies, the Lakers scored just nine points in the third quarter, which is their lowest offensive output in any quarter this season. Bryant went 0-for-5 in that quarter.
Bryant and the Lakers will certainly have to step up their game on Thursday as they host the 38-17 Clippers.