Making his way out of the entrance tunnel, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant limped.
He had been nursing pain in his left shin for the last two games and it appeared to flare up, so much so that he's worn a shin guard and now wears a boot afterward games to protect the injured body part. Bryant brushed it off as just a "fashion statement" because, frankly, his performance in the Lakers' 113-108 victory Wednesday over the Clippers showed it didn't affect his game.
His 31-point performance on 13-of-19 shooting featured everything you'd expect out of Bryant. He hit clutch shots, such as his 22-foot fallaway that gave the Lakers a 110-106 lead with 24.5 seconds. Bryant found that look after setting a screen for Ramon Sessions, cutting to the left block and then elevating over 6'4" guard Randy Foye. Bryant scored mostly at the foul-line extended and below. That gave him looks in all his sweet spots, including the elbows, midrange shots, the block and step-back jumpers. And he hardly looked fazed in the Clippers' numerous defensive strategies, including zone, double teams and various assignments in Foye, Caron Butler and Nick Young. Bryant all carved them up.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown reminded everyone that's "just what he does." But it's still spectacular, nonetheless, to witness it over and over again.
"I'm not surprised because I've seen it a lot in a short amount of time with him," Brown said. "But he's a great player. Great players are supposed to make great plays."