Kobe Bryant Refuses To Make Fourth Quarter Benching an Issue

Kobe Bryant wasn’t happy after the 102-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and just because the Los Angeles Lakers lost the game. Not just because instead of backing the sudden talk of championship material with a win over a good team, the Lakers folded, at home, only their fourth loss of the season.

Bryant was actually benched for a long time than usual during the fourth quarter, and in general, had a frustrating game. It was one of the games in which Bryant didn’t get involved early on, and the stretch got longer and longer. He attempted only one field goal in the first nine minutes. Like trying to say – ‘You think you guys can win without me? Go ahead’. The Lakers struggled to score early on, missing their first seven shots.

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Bryant finished with 18 points, as Andre Bynum led the team, scoring 30 but grabbing only four rebounds. Pau Gasol had a 16-14 double double, while Ramon Sessions started and scored 18 as well. The bench? Close to nothing, unlike the Grizzlies who got 41 points for their subs, including 16 of O.J. Mayo.

Despite everyone wanting blood, Bryant refused to speak about Mike Brown, but by not speaking about him pointed his dagger very accurately through the seemingly harmless words.

If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give it to you. I can’t sit here and criticize his decisions. As the leader of this ball club, that’s something I can’t afford to do. If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one. I can’t sit here and criticize his decisions. In leading this ball club, that’s something I can’t afford to do. I’ve had his back the whole season; I can’t start doing something crazy now. It wouldn’t make no sense.

Was Brown crazy to bench Kobe? He probably shouldn’t have. Bryant wasn’t going out of control, finishing with 7-15 from the field. Rather shy in his standards, which seem to have been raised a bit this season in terms of uncontrollable shooting on some nights. Maybe it was Bryant’s demeanor, and lack of effort that troubled his head coach. Maybe it was just an experiment, trying to see how this team goes without its leader and best player.

The time for experiments, especially with every game counting as to where the Lakers finish in the very tough to predict Western Conference standings, was a couple of months ago. When Brown had the chance of trying to restrain Bryant and reform the hierarchy of scoring. It’s too late now, and messing around with stuff beyond his powers doesn’t sound like a very good idea.