NEW ORLEANS — The Kobe Bryant pendulum sometimes swings too far, and Coach Phil Jackson always hopes it swings back.
Jackson criticizes Bryant from time to time for distorting the Lakers' offense by taking shots that are too quick or too many in number. Wednesday night was one of those times.
Bryant hit a crucial three-point shot with 1:08 to play to help the Lakers escape with a 93-86 victory over New Orleans, but Jackson didn't like Bryant's fourth quarter.
"He was doing too much at the end of the ball game," Jackson said. "We should have had him off ball a few times so it wasn't always him on ball. But he came through with the big shot that kind of clinched it."
Bryant finished with 20 points on five-for-15 shooting.
Before the game, Jackson was praising Bryant for being in tune with teammates.
"I think he's included his players," Jackson said. "Kobe understands now that he can't go into one of those hot spells where he might dominate the ball for six minutes and other players not having an opportunity. He understands there are times where he can go on a three-minute spree or whatever, and change the course of the game, but he's got to measure that out as far as what the game needs."
Just in case . . .
As soon as the question was asked, New Orleans Coach Byron Scott leaned back in his chair and laughed.
Could he ever see himself coaching the Lakers?
Scott, 47, admitted he had envisioned it, but quickly pointed out that he loved coaching the Hornets and had no design on leaving.
"I'm going to be honest. Yeah, I thought about it a lot," Scott said. "That's home for me. That's an organization that will be embedded in my heart for the rest of my life."
Scott played 11 years for the Lakers and was on three championship teams in the 1980s. He attended Inglewood Morningside High.
But Scott, who was selected the NBA coach of the year last season, signed a two-year, $10-million extension last summer.
"I love the situation I'm in now," he said. "I love this team. . . . So, I don't see myself leaving those guys any time soon."
Jackson, 63, is in the first season of a two-year contract extension worth $23 million.
It's a gamble
The signs plastered in the visitor's locker room at New Orleans Arena advertise for a local casino, saying things such as "Up for a game of 21?"
Jackson, for one, was befuddled, particularly in the wake of the Tim Donaghy refereeing scandal.
"We thought it wasn't a good message at all," he said. "One side of it's saying, 'Don't gamble' and the other side's an advertisement for it. But this is a [New Orleans] franchise that's led by a good Christian leader. He has prayer before every game. I'm sure he knows what he's doing."
Jackson was referring to New Orleans owner George Shinn, who has the public-address announcer read a prayer before every home game.
Jackson was then asked what advertising he would like to see on the locker rooms at Staples Center.
"Popeyes Chicken," he said, smiling. "That's one of my favorites."