Mike D’Antoni believes Kobe Bryant took the facilitating role too far

Kobe Bryant suddenly went from forcing too many shots to forcing too many passes.

He passed up wide open looks. Bryant threw passes to teammates not expecting the ball. He finished in what became his lowest-scoring game since his second NBA season with four points on 1 of 8 shooting and eight turnovers. Yet, the Lakers still beat the Phoenix Suns, 91-85, Tuesday at Staples Center in what marked their eighth win in the past 11 games.

Chalk it up to another weird twist in an unpredictable Lakers season. Even more stunning: Bryant didn’t play this way to send a message or make a point. He sounded giddy about his role too.

“I thought it was great, actually,” said an upbeat Bryant, who had nine assists. “Obviously, scoring four points and going one for eight isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. But I think the important thing is that we just moved the ball.”

That Bryant did.

His first attempt came with 7:30 left in the third quarter. Bryant’s first basket happened with 2:10 left in the game where he made an eight-foot jumper off the rebound. Routine drives to the basket often resulted in an unexpected pass to teammate that resulted in an easy look or a sloppy turnover. Bryant’s passivity played a large part of the Lakers scoring nine third-quarter points, the team’s lowest offensive output all season.

“He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You have to walk the fine line. He went way over the other line. He has to get back to the middle where he facilitates and is aggressive and it flows that way.”

Bryant’s been tackling this role for the past 11 games by becoming the team’s floor general while Steve Nash has morphed into a defacto shooting guard. Bryant’s averaged 8.27 assists during that stretch, ranking just behind Boston’s Rajon Rondo (11.1 assists), the Clippers’ Chris Paul (9.5) and New Orlean’s Greivis Vasquez (9.4).

But Bryant’s facilitating hardly looked smooth against Phoenix.

“Once every 17 years, I guess he’s allowed that,” D’Antoni said. “I wouldn’t be too tough on him.”

Fortunately for the Lakers, the Suns (17-36) weren’t too tough either. They shot only 41 percent and committed 19 turnovers.

Stil, Bryant believes his poor play provided a solid foundation that will ensure better results moving forward.

“It might look bad on me individually like it did tonight,” he said. “But I think in the long haul, defenses will have to think about it and play us. We’ll beat them either way. It’s not about us individually. It’s about us as a team.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616769187 Nor Muss Estudillo

    When it is hot some like it cold, when it is cold some like it hot always wanting what is not.

  • Andi_S

    I like the fact that Kobe’s facilitating more, don’t jack up 22+ shots per game. But D’Antoni has some valid points, against the Suns he took it way to far. I believe it was the 3rd quarter with about 6 mins. left, he drove to the basket with just one defender in front of him. Was it Jared Dudley? However, he could have scored the basket easily by himself, but instead passed the ball to Jamison who almost wasn’t able to catch it. Fortunately he was hot today and made the long two. Otherwise it’d be another bad turnover for us.

    He has to find his balance between being aggressive on the offensive end and facilitating/involving his teammates. At least Dwight finally played some good basketball. Yes, it’s just the Suns, but maybe (hopefully) he needed a game like this. There are still 29 games to play, the Rockets are 3.5 games in front of us, the Jazz 4.0. The playoffs are still realistically reachable for us. Let’s play some good, hard basketball!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gerry-Cabalo/100000323251352 Gerry Cabalo

    Well, now, that’s quite a switch – the “selfish” Kobe passing too much!

  • jaberwacky

    I think it this phoenix game was a good experiment to see if Diva howard and everyone else can bring it. The odds were safe since they were playing a team at the bottom of the western conference standings and they were at home. I would give Kobe a standing ovation on this one for taking the gamble. He needs to get the guys involved in preparation for the Clips tomorrow. Kobe should bring his A-game. I just hope Diva12 and Antawn Jameson would bring the same effort. In the Miami game, Diva12 was just standing at the post waving his arms most of the time and Antawn was missing shots at point blank range wasting a lot of great passes from Kobe. Kobe and Nash should’ve gotten 7 or 8 more assists in that game.