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GAME 2 REPORT | LAKER NOTES

Bryant Doing More With Less

May 12, 1999|TIM KAWAKAMI

Over the last two weeks, as Glen Rice has become a bigger and more productive part of the Laker offense, Kobe Bryant's shots have dropped to about 11 a game, but his scoring average has held steady and the other aspects of his game have flourished.

Bryant made 56.1% of his shots in the Lakers' five-game winning streak through Game 1 against the Houston Rockets, and tried only five three-pointers, making two. During that period, he averaged 5.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds.

"I think that's a great thing," Coach Kurt Rambis said before Tuesday's second playoff game against the Rockets.

"Kobe, that's something we've been working with him on for a while, for him to become a more efficient basketball player. To be able to make the right decisions at the right time.

"And when he does those things, his rebounds, his assists, will all go up. His percentages will all go up, turnovers will go down . . . and his points will probably, on a whole, continue to rise as well."

Said Bryant: "I'm just taking my time. Just letting the flow of the game come to me."

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Just as Bryant had hoped, he was sent out to guard Rocket small forward Scottie Pippen in Game 1, and he drew the assignment again Tuesday.

Asked about Bryant versus Pippen, Rambis quickly volunteered that the decision didn't have anything to do with trying to avoid putting Rice on Pippen.

"It wasn't a matter or question or doubt or anything that one guy can't guard another guy or whatever," Rambis said. "We just think this is our best matchup. I don't know how else to put it.

"I think, depending on what they do and how the games are going, we can change things. But because of [Bryant's] length and size, that's a good matchup.

"Glen's been doing an excellent job in his defense. Nobody's ever written about it, but his defense has been great, I think.

"To me, if that's what you're getting at, it's not trying to hide Glen or anything. That's not the case."

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