Phil Jackson would publicly criticize Kobe Bryant from time to time, but it was more a Zen zing than a diatribe.
Mike Brown once complained to reporters about Bryant's game. Then he recanted the next day, even apologizing to Bryant.
Coach Mike D'Antoni went full throttle Friday without ever saying Bryant's name after the Lakers shamefully lost to Washington, 103-100.
He said the Lakers went one-on-one too often and didn't play enough defense against Trevor Ariza, a double indictment of Bryant, who was a perfect conductor before halftime but commandeered the offense the rest of the way and sloughed off defensively as Ariza hit three after three after three.
Dwight Howard turned into a rebounder/pick-setter. Steve Nash watched from the perimeter. Metta World Peace tried to force his way into the action and was hit with a costly charging foul with 34.9 seconds left.
The Lakers' fourth-quarter shooting: Bryant was four for 10, Nash was one for one, Howard was zero for zero. This from a team that led at halftime, 57-41, when Bryant had four points and six assists.
Bryant seemed to know it too. He said a few bland words to reporters but acknowledged his poor game later on his Twitter feed, crudely saying what went wrong and promising to "Flush it."
D'Antoni answered with sarcasm Friday night when asked specifically why the ball stopped moving in the fourth quarter.
"That's a good question. What, are you gonna throw me a piece of dynamite?" he said.
Howard continued to beat the same drum after another game of being ignored down the stretch. He had one fourth-quarter shot in the Lakers' recent loss to Atlanta. He had none in the fourth quarter of a loss to Oklahoma City earlier this month, matching Friday's output.
"Ball movement," Howard said Friday after making eight of nine shots and four of five free-throw attempts. He didn't have another shot after a layup with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
"We didn't play the same way we played to get the lead. We have to do that every night."
As in: Pass the ball!
It's not as simple as a Bryant-Howard thing. Howard had no fourth-quarter shots in the Lakers' loss to Phoenix on Monday. Bryant didn't even play that night.
Nash was also irritated by Friday's loss, seemingly confused by what he witnessed.
"I don't know. I wish I had the answers for you," he said.
No one mentioned Bryant's name. He's won plenty of games for the Lakers. Too many to count. Friday night wasn't one of them.
An MRI exam Saturday revealed that reserve forward Antawn Jamison sustained a sprained right wrist and ligament damage Friday that could require surgery after this season.
Jamison is listed as day to day by the team and will try to play through the discomfort.
He was injured toward the end of the third quarter when his shot was blocked by Kevin Seraphin.
Hard to forget
Ariza left the Lakers after a sterling playoff run in 2009, overestimating his value as a free agent that summer and landing in Houston for the same money the Lakers signed the former Ron Artest (five years, $34 million).
It was easy to discern the murmurs Friday at Staples Center as Ariza drilled five three-pointers in the second half. Almost all were uncontested.
"I was getting a lot of open shots, for one, knocking them down. And also it's my son's birthday ... turned 5 today," he said, providing another reason to beat his former team.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.