Sunday, December 25, 2011
Kobe Bryant: Wrist 'doing all right'
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers may have let an 11-point lead slip away in the final four minutes on Sunday and a Kobe Bryant turnover might have led to Derrick Rose's go-ahead bucket in the Chicago Bulls' 88-87 win, but Bryant exuded nothing but optimism after the game.
"Yes, I'm upset we lost the game but I saw a lot, a lot of positive things," Bryant said. "A lot of them. A lot of them. So I'm very pleased."
The Lakers were able to turn a seven-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter with their defense. Los Angeles held Chicago to just 32 points on 12-for-48 shooting (25 percent) in the second half.
"They're one of the best teams in the league and we did a phenomenal job holding them down defensively," Bryant said. "We beat ourselves at the end with turnovers and free throws."
Bryant was the main culprit when it came to turnovers. Bryant, who was playing with a heavily wrapped right wrist after tearing a ligament in the wrist last week, did not blame the turnovers on the injury.
Bryant said the wrist was "doing all right" after the game.
Bad wrist or not, Bryant had eight turnovers on the day, including a crucial miscue with 16.9 seconds left when he tried to pass the ball to Pau Gasol and Chicago's Luol Deng came up with the steal that led to Rose's game-winning shot in the lane with 4.8 seconds left.
The Lakers inbounded the ball to Bryant with 20.4 seconds left, leading 87-86. With the shot clock turned off, the only way the Bulls could get the ball back would be by fouling or creating a turnover.
"I realized they weren't going to foul," Bryant said. "They were just trapping and Pau was in the hole, so it was just kind of miscommunication. He stayed in the hole, I thought he was going to step up in the hole and that's what happened."
Said Gasol: "I think the ball got deflected so the pass was a little off-target and slower and they took advantage of it and were able to intercept it. But, I think he might have got fouled too."
Mike Brown, manning the sidelines in a real game for the first time since being hired as the new coach, trusted the ball in Bryant's hands.
"Anytime we have a lead in that situation, we know a team's got to foul," Brown said. "The shot clock was off and the ball went to the right player's hands. I'm not sure, I have not asked him why he jumped to make the pass. We would have liked for him to hold onto it and for them to foul him and him go knock down the two free throws."
The Lakers had 17 turnovers as a team after averaging 21.5 turnovers per game in their two preseason exhibitions against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The turnover was preceded by Gasol missing two free throws with 1:32 remaining and the Lakers up by six and Josh McRoberts missing two free throws with 1:12 remaining and the Lakers up by four.
"We made mental mistakes," said Bryant.
Overall, Bryant chose to focus on the Lakers' effort in corralling the Bulls, who led the league with 62 wins last season.
"Defensively, we were terrific," Bryant said. "We did a really good job and it's just going to get better.
"... Defensively and rebounding the ball is what our main emphasis is and that's what it's going to be. It might be ugly, but who the hell cares?"
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.