The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 91-85 Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
There’s not really much surprise in that fact — the Suns are, after all, the worst team in the Western Conference.
What was strange about the game was the performance of Kobe Bryant. The league’s fifth-leading all-time scorer didn’t attempt a shot in the first half of the game, instead passing up open opportunities to get teammates involved.
Bryant did start shooting in the second half, but connected on just 1-of-8 field goal attempts and finished with only four points on the night.
Much has been made about Bryant’s reduced shooting as of late while the Lakers try anything to right the ship, but Tuesday’s performance might have been a little extreme.
“I’ve been doing that since January, just trying to make the right play to keep everybody involved,” Bryant said following the game. “They took away my post-ups they wanted to see if the other guys could beat us or maybe if I’d get frustrated and start forcing things a little bit. It just took the double teams and we just have to try to make the right play.”
It was the first time in Bryant’s career, which has spanned 17 years and 1,214 games, that he’s played more than 30 minutes and scored four or fewer points. He also turned the ball over eight times — only the 23rd time he’s had eight or more in a game in his career.
“I guess every seventeen years he’s allowed that. I wouldn’t be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You got to walk the fine line and he’s way over the other line and he’s got to get back in the middle where he facilitates and he’s aggressive. He’s got to flow that way, and then once you get out of rhythm then at the end of the game you have no chance to get back in rhythm. So it’s just one of those games. Just chalk it off and write it off and get to the next one.”
Bryant doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“I thought it was great actually. I think obviously going 1 for 8 isn’t necessarily a recipe for success but I think that the important thing is that we just moved the ball. Just moving, it’s not about us individually it’s just about what we can do to help the team,” he said.
Bryant’s streak of 187 straight games (including playoffs) with at least 10 points was broken. He scored 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting in a 93-81 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on December 17, 2010.