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Bryant Searches for Lost Stroke

January 19, 2001|TIM BROWN

Kobe Bryant took a lot of jump shots Thursday, before practice, in practice and after practice, in hopes of reclaiming his lost stroke.

Part of the problem is his sore left elbow, suffered when he banged it off rookie Mark Madsen's head in practice, and the big pad Bryant is wearing as a result. The strange thing is, Bryant's shot looks better on his turnarounds and fadeaways than when he simply faces the basket and fires.

Bryant is 58 for 139 (41.7%) from the field in his last six games, including six for 34 (17.6%) on three-point shots. He has averaged 26.7 points in the period, in part because he has missed only seven of 45 free throws.

The slight downward turn has cost Bryant his place atop the NBA scoring leaders. Through Wednesday, Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse was averaging 29.8. Bryant is at 29.5. In Bryant's last six games, however, he has averaged 6.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists, both above his season averages.

"My elbow's been bothering me," he said. "Today I came out, got a lot of shots early, worked on my shooting after practice, tried to get a rhythm. And I got this big elbow pad on my arm. I don't like anything on my arm. I like to be loose."

Bryant is a right-handed shooter, but the left arm isn't entirely meaningless.

"That's where I cock it," he said. "That's where I hold my shotgun. I spray 'em with this one, but I cock it with this one."


When Bryant was done with his first triple-double (26 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists Monday against Vancouver), the Lakers didn't exactly carry him off the court on their shoulders, impressive as it was.

"We're kind of groping for what his emphasis is going to be," Coach Phil Jackson said. "There are a lot of games he's just playing a wonderful game in the flow. I thought he did a good job of that the other night and we kind of worked around it. And then down the stretch it seemed like he wanted to take every shot. That's not OK. It's nice to have somebody who has that ability and wants to step into that vacuum. But, it's not de rigueur for our team. We're going to hit the guys who are open for shots."

Jackson was asked if Bryant might ultimately become a triple-double-type player.

"One time I had a player--Scottie Pippen--who I told, 'I'd much rather have you have 12 [points], 12 [rebounds] and 12 [assists] in a ballgame than 20, eight and five,' " Jackson said. "It's much more important to him to try to reach triple-doubles but not try to reach 20 points in scoring. Kobe can do that anyway. He can get 20 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists night in and night out, but that's got to be a selection for him."


vs. Houston

7:30, Fox Sports Net

* Site--Staples Center

* Radio--KLAC (570)

* Records--Lakers 25-12, Rockets 20-19.

* Record vs. Rockets: 2-1.

* Update--Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwon, on the injured list because of a knee injury, did not make the trip.

* Tickets--(800) 462-2849

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