In an empty court with very few people watching, Kobe Bryant took the floor and performed something that he does best.
Shoot. Shoot. And shoot.
Bryant performed that task all around the perimeter so he could end the 1 of 34 mark he compiled in the last 15 games. But his marksmanship goes beyond finding the right rhythm as he tries to find a balance between his facilitating and scoring roles. He’s also been battling a right shoulder injury.
“I’ve had them for a while,” Bryant said. “It’s just part of it.”
How did it happen.
“Passing,” Bryant deadpanned.
Well, he found a cure in the Lakers’ 111-107 victory Friday over the Portland Trail Blazers. With very few teammates hitting open shots, Bryant went back to his traditional scoring role by dropping 40 points on 15 of 23 shooting. Bryant even went 1 of 3 from three-point range.
“I didn’t realize I was shooting so poorly from the 3,” Bryant said. “It was one of those things where I was facilitating and taking a 3 here and there, a 3 here and there. All of a sudden, it adds up. It just irked me it’s not going down.”
That hardly was the case for Bryant against Portland. His 11 fourth-quarter points included fadeaways, floaters, driving layups and free throws. With exception to a careless turnover where he overdribbled too much, Bryant rediscovered his niche for scoring.
“When I first started, it was about getting my teammates in rhythm,” Bryant said. “Then figuring my way through it. I know I can find that balance. Coming out of the break, I’m being aggressive. Tonight, they weren’t hitting shots. But that’s okay. I can do both comfortably.”
Even with an injured right shoulder.
“I got hit on it or something,” Bryant said. “It’s just one of those things you have to do. When I wake up, it hurts. When I come in, you get treatment. You got to do what you got to do.”
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