Time after time, Kobe Bryant kept swishing shots into the net. He pulled up for jumpers. Bryant moved off the ball and then attempted catch-and-shoot opportunities. He kept repeating the routine.
Hardly earthshattering Bryant would engage in such an exercise following the team’s practice Wednesday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. But it also showed how much Bryant has attempted such shots with far more frequency and accuracy than in recent games. Bryant has gone 1 of 35 from three-point range in the last 13 games.
Yet, Bryant hardly sounded concerned about it.
“I’m not in a slump,” Bryant said. “I just haven’t shot it.”
Nonetheless, his 42.1 percent clip from the field in February has marked a steep statistical decline after having an efficient year. Bryant’s shooting percentage has decreased each month from November (47.7), December (46.6) and January (44.4).
Bryant admitted the elbow tendinitis in his right arm has affected him. But Bryant suggested stronger that his newfound facilitating role has contributed to the drop in efficiency. In the Lakers’ 91-85 win Tuesday over the Phoenix Suns, Bryant scored only four points on 1 of 8 shooting, his lowest offensive output since his second year in the NBA.
“It takes me out of my rhythm quite a bit,” Bryant said. “It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I’m working it out.”
How does it affect his rhythm?
“You wind up facilitating a lot,” Bryant said. “The game gets away from you. In the fourth quarter, you do what you have to do. At oppportunities they trap you. Then you dont have shooting opportunities. You get back in the game with five minutes left. They’re still trapping you. You still make the right play. then when the seocnd half comes around, you’re not in a rhythm. But I can work through that.”
Bryant’s working on that in various ways.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and guard Steve Nash have encouraged Bryant not to dial back his aggressiveness even with his facilitating role. Nash has also advised Bryant needs to be “conscious of mixing it up” so opponents can’t predict whether he’ll shoot or pass. Instead of working on his three-point shot, Bryant spent much of his shooting following Wednesday’s practice working on mid-range jumpers.
“I haven’t shot that many consciously,” Bryant said of ones from three-point range. “I’m trying to get into areas that are more threatening and get away from the long ball a little bit.”
As Bryant has proven for most of his career, he believes the shooting struggles will end pretty soon.
Said Bryant: “Im not worried about it.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org