Kobe Bryant not panicking after loss

Updated: December 20, 2011, 3:13 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- After a five-month long lockout, the Los Angeles Lakers only had 10 days of training camp before Monday's 114-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Then again, the Clippers only had 10 days, too.

Is it time to hit the panic button? No.

But it's a little disquieting for Kobe Bryant.

"I'm always concerned going into the preseason, especially having a new system and having a lot of new players," said Bryant. "I'm always concerned, but we have the willingness to push forward and I like the pieces that we have, so there's a lot of room for improvement."

The Lakers played four players that weren't on the roster a season ago in free agents Josh McRoberts, Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy as well as rookie Darius Morris. They also had two different starters as Matt Barnes played with the first unit instead of Metta World Peace and Steve Blake started in place of Derek Fisher who sat as a preventative measure as he trains himself back into playing shape.

When asked how quickly he thought the team could come together, Bryant replied, "I don't know, but we'll figure it out."

On the plus side, six months removed from traveling to Germany to have an innovative procedure performed on his right knee, Bryant looked spry.

"The knee is good," Bryant said.

Bryant scored a team-high 22 points, going 5 for 10 from the field and getting to the free throw line for an abundance of attempts where he went 12 for 15.

"Obviously I feel a lot stronger and a lot quicker being able to get to the basket and get to the free throw line which will be a huge plus for us," Bryant said.

Bryant averaged 7.1 free throw attempts per game last season and had 10 or more attempts from the foul line just 20 times in 82 games.

"He's pretty good physically," said new coach Mike Brown. "He's done some things in practice that kind of wows you in terms of taking the ball to the basket strong and finishing with dunks in traffic and stuff like that. So, physically he's fine."

Brown, however, did critique Bryant's defense. After Chauncey Billups hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter when Bryant was slow to close out, Brown immediately called timeout even though it was just 53 seconds after halftime.

"Kobe is going to be fine offensively," Brown said. "But defensively, Kobe was just as guilty as everybody else at not contesting shots and so he as well as the rest of the guys have to make sure that they focus in on that area of the floor."

The Clippers shot 48.8 percent from the floor and went 13 for 28 (46.4 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc, a troubling statistic considering the Lakers were ousted by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals last spring when the Mavs went 49 for 106 (46.2 percent) in four games.

"We pride ourselves in being a good defensive team, that's our staple, so we got to do a much better job," said Bryant.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com