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Kobe Bryant takes back seat to teammates in Lakers' win

He has 19 points against the 76ers, as Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum play leading roles.

February 28, 2010|By Broderick Turner

For most of the game Friday night, Kobe Bryant seemed content to let his teammates be the focal points of the offense.

That wasn't such a bad idea considering that Pau Gasol had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bynum had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Lamar Odom had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Still, it was not the kind of game many are used to seeing from Bryant during the Lakers' 99-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center.

"I thought Kobe played a rather lackluster game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "[But] he made some plays down the stretch that are typical of his game."

Even in the fourth quarter, when the Lakers were trying to separate from the 76ers, Bryant didn't just take over the game.

He said his ankle that kept him out of five games is 100% healthy.

He said that he has his normal lift.

"If they needed me to go off, I could have," said Bryant, who had five points in the fourth.

When Bryant returned from his ankle injury after sitting out 18 days, he went off on Memphis last Tuesday, scoring 32 points, hitting a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to give the Lakers the victory.

But he had 20 points against the Dallas Mavericks the next night on nine-for-23 shooting.

He was seven-for-16 shooting against the 76ers on Friday night, finishing with 19 points.

"I still think that he's searching to find a rhythm in his shot and a rhythm in the game," Jackson said.

In Bryant's eyes, his rhythm is fine.

The Lakers were 4-1 in his absence and Bryant said he wants his teammates to maintain that same focus, drive and intensity they had without him.

"For me, it's really about building that confidence in everybody else," Bryant said. "It's about building that rhythm. I had opportunities out there on the floor that I could have taken advantage of, but we had other mismatches as well.

"So in those instances, I'll take a back seat. I'll let those guys develop, let those guys build that rhythm and confidence. If they need me to do it, I'll do it. Obviously, in big games it's a little different. But I feel fine."

Bryant was only one for four in the fourth quarter against the 76ers.

But he looked for Odom and Gasol in the fourth, feeding them because they had mismatches.

"I just do whatever is necessary," Bryant said. "There are some nights Pau doesn't have it going. There are some nights 'Drew doesn't have it going. That's when I step up and have big numbers. But I just do whatever is necessary. I can find my rhythm pretty quickly."

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