Kobe Bryant was able to mask it for a while, this business of an avulsion fracture in his right index finger forcing him to change his shot by putting more pressure on his thumb when releasing the ball.
But his shooting has taken a turn for the worse, as have the Lakers' fortunes.
His shot total was creeping up in recent weeks, easily overlooked because he had been shooting a respectable 47% since injuring his finger Dec. 11 against Minnesota.
Then came losses to the Clippers and Portland, and Bryant can no longer say his shot count is justified by his accuracy.
He made 10 of 30 shots (33.3%) against the Clippers and 14 of 37 (37.8%) against Portland.
To put his Portland shooting experience into perspective, Bryant and Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy each scored 32 points Friday, but Roy did it with 26 fewer shots, making nine of 11.
"It's an awful lot of shots," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant's 37 against the Blazers. "If you look at the box scores between Roy and the points scored as opposed to how many shots were taken, it's a great discrepancy."
Jackson, however, didn't slam Bryant's desire to shoot.
"Sometimes you just have to let the game dictate what the terms are," Jackson said. "He's got a pretty good feel for it. He's really disappointed he missed some wide-open shots at the start of the fourth quarter [against Portland]. I took him out and he came back and missed a couple of easy shots that he normally would make. He's going to go back and do it again."
Despite shooting left-handed much more often as a result of the finger injury, Bryant had been surprisingly accurate since getting hurt, including a 16-for-30 effort against Sacramento and a 14-for-26 night against Oklahoma City.
He also made game-winning shots against Milwaukee and Sacramento.
But maybe the finger is getting the best of him these days.
"I'm sure it bothers him," Jackson said. "I don't know whether I should attribute it to [shooting woes] or not, but I'm sure it bothers him as he's shooting."
Bryant was not available to reporters Saturday. He and the rest of the starters were given the day off by Jackson.
It's an amazing statistic, but it's in jeopardy . . . maybe.
The Lakers haven't lost three consecutive games since acquiring Pau Gasol almost two years ago, but if they lose a third consecutive game tonight without Gasol, does the stat still count?
The Lakers' forward-center would have sat out all three losses because of a strained left hamstring.
Gasol ran on a treadmill Saturday but is not expected to play tonight against Milwaukee.
Jackson hinted that Gasol would be sidelined a total of about 10 days, which might put him back in play Tuesday at San Antonio or Wednesday at Dallas.
Walton scrimmages again
Reserve forward Luke Walton took part in another scrimmage Saturday but isn't expected to play in a game until Tuesday at the earliest. He has missed almost eight weeks because of a pinched nerve in his back.
Walton has been a non-factor this season, averaging 3.7 points in 10.6 minutes a game, but Jackson likes the way he moves the ball on a second unit that tends to get stagnant.
See ya, 72-10
Before the season began, long before it became apparent the Lakers (28-8) would encounter trouble on the road (they are 8-5), some players mentioned a desire to chase the Chicago Bulls' record-setting 72-10 mark during the 1995-96 regular season.
The Lakers would have to go 44-2 the rest of the way to match it and 45-1 to beat it.
Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.