A lot was made of the play that came out of the Lakers' timeout with 23.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter Sunday, with Kobe Bryant drawing up L.A.'s plan to go inside to Andrew Bynum for the deciding bucket against Boston, but the timeout itself was somewhat curious.
The Lakers were leading by one and the ball was in Bryant's hands as the Celtics retreated on defense. Also, bear in mind, Bryant had just scored a jumper on the Lakers' last possession. When Bryant heard the referee's whistle to indicate play was being stopped because his own coach was calling timeout and stopping his momentum, he promptly whipped off his face mask and didn't try to hide the exasperated smirk on his face.
Conspiracy theories abounded following Bryant's reaction to Brown. I was a guest on Adam Jones' ESPN Boston radio show on Monday and Jones suggested Bryant deferring to Bynum was a silent protest against Brown calling timeout. Later Monday, when I went on 710 ESPN Radio's "Max & Marcellus Show," Marcellus Wiley was of the opinion that Bryant and Bynum called the final play on their own after the team had broken its huddle and against Brown's instructions.
Brown revisited the timeout before the Lakers' game against the Grizzlies on Tuesday.
"I like to hold on to my timeouts until the last second," Brown said. "If I end the game with timeouts, I’m OK with that because I think you need to play the game until the last 15 or so seconds where you need to start fouling and have those timeouts to advance [the ball].
"In the Boston game, normally, nine times out of 10 if not higher, I would let that situation go, especially with Kobe having the ball and the defense not being set. I’d just let it happen, but I had talked to my assistants beforehand and said, ‘OK, if we get this rebound, I’m going to call a timeout to make sure we know exactly what we want to do with the basketball.’ Because I thought Boston was that good.
"Now, if I could do it all over again, I’d probably let them play, but I thought it did help us get a little organized and we got exactly what we wanted out of the timeout. So, do I think there’s a right and wrong? No, not really. But I would lean more closer to us being up one or even down one and the ball in our best player’s hands, I’d let it play. Knowing that I still have timeouts, I’d let it play out."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.