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Kobe Bryant to wear black mask against Detroit

March 06, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gestures toward a referee during the Lakers' win over the Miami Heat at Staples Center on Sunday.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gestures toward a referee during the Lakers'… (Michael Nelson / EPA )

Auburn Hills, Mich. -- Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will wear a black protective mask Tuesday night against Detroit, ditching the clear one he used in his first three games after sustaining a broken nose.

Bryant played well with the clear one, which will still be on hand if he decides to go back to it.

He averaged 34 points and shot 54.3% in three games since taking a hard foul from Miami guard Dwyane Wade in the All-Star Game.

Bryant went with the new mask after trying out another new one because, as a team official said simply, "it felt good."

Despite playing seamlessly with the clear mask, Bryant complained about it, saying it steamed up on the inside to create a sauna-like condition.

Before Tuesday's game, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said he thought Bryant deserved extra recognition.

"I think he definitely should be involved in MVP talks. I think it's hilarious that he's not," Brown said. "You talk about everything new in a shortened season and everybody saying he's 85 years old, or whatever they're saying, and he's leading the league in scoring, he's efficient with it, he has this team sitting in a pretty good position. There's no doubt in my mind that Kobe Bryant should be mentioned in the MVP talk. I'm baffled that he's not."

The front-runners appear to be Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant and Miami forward LeBron James. Chicago guard Derrick Rose was the league MVP last season but has missed several games this season because of a sore back.

Bryant is averaging 28.9 points, 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds. His recent hot streak has improved his accuracy to 44.4% this season.

"My TV was on ESPN as I was heading out, and I don't know who said it, but they said [Minnesota forward] Kevin Love because he has the team at .500. Now, Kevin Love's a very good basketball player and he's putting up extraordinary numbers, but if you're going to say Kevin Love is ... in the top five, Kobe Bryant needs to be in the top two."

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