Fan react while the Hornets bench is silent after Kobe Bryant made a go-ahead… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Time after time, Kobe Bryant's shot fell short of the basket.
But that hardly phased Lakers Coach Mike Brown. He believed, at some point, that Bryant's shots would eventually fall. They usually do. Yes, it proved to be a tough balancing act in the Lakers' 88-85 victory Saturday over the New Orleans Hornets. Bryant hit what proved to be the game-winning shot -- a 26 foot three-pointer with 21 seconds left -- but he didn't make his first shot of the game until his 16th attempt.
Bryant's performance Saturday, his worst start ever in a game, marked just a small sample of a bigger formula. In the last 10 games, Bryant has averaged 23.5 points on 35.2% shooting, a far cry from the 31.2 points he posted in January and the 26 points he averaged in February and March. But Brown refuses to think he needs to make any adjustments with Bryant's playing time (38 minutes a game, third highest in the NBA) or ask him to make adjustments to his game.
"Because it's Kobe, you don't show it to that indivudal just to show you believe in him," Brown said. "You show it to that individual because you do no matter the situation. There are times if it's drastically affecting the outcome of the game and it's hurting the team, then you make a change. You don't want the team to completely suffer. But there was a lot of basketball left. There was a lot of time for him to try to figure out how to get himself right."
Brown already made an abrupt change when he benched Andrew Bynum last week for taking an ill-advised three-pointer against the Golden State Warriors, a move that prompted Brown to sit him for much of the second half. But Brown illustrated Steve Blake's play agaisnt New Orleans as reasons why he thinks he's showing trust in his players. After Blake committed two consecutive turnovers, he then nailed three consecutive three-pointers.
"I guarantee you half the crowd was telling me to take him out of the game," Brown said of Blake. "I believe in the guy and I want him to know I believe in the guy. We even had a timeout and I could've taken him out then. But I didn't."
Interestingly enough, Blake hit those baskets after a few fans yelled at him to play more aggressively.
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