Kobe Bryant struggles, but he’s not alone in Lakers’ loss

first_imgBryant also displayed bravado afterward, dismissing any concerns he could complete the 2015-16 season nursing his current workload.“What’s long-term?” Bryant asked before joking with a reporter. “Equinox pick-up games, dude. I’ll post your (butt) up there. It doesn’t matter.”Of course, Bryant’s scoring struggles did not dissuade the continuous fan support surrounding his final NBA season. The Atlanta Zoo named its black mamba after Bryant, a twist on how the Lakers’ star went by the black mamba nickname because the snake’s predator-like qualities symbolized his on-court aggressiveness. Though he called the gesture “pretty darn cool,” Bryant has his limitations. He has reiterated he does not want the Lakers or any opposing teams to shower him with lavish gifts, as the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and the Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once enjoyed.“What’s been going on with the video tributes and the response from the fans and players as well, to me that’s the most special,” Bryant said. “That’s more special than any gift.”Of course, a win would mark the best gift. Instead, the Lakers (3-16) failed to start a winning streak against Atlanta (13-9), which featured double-digit efforts from Al Horford (16 points), Paul Millsap (15), Kent Bazemore (15), Lamar Patterson (14) and Jeff Teague (13). “There’s a lot of self doubt, self criticism and a lot of moments where we feel discouraged,” Bryant said. “Keep your head down and continue to work.” Bryant was not alone. D’Angelo Russell struggled with both his shooting accuracy (6 of 16) and ball handling (seven turnovers), two areas that overshadowed his first career double-double with 16 points and four assists. Julius Randle had eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and five rebounds, well short of the double-double efforts Lakers coach Byron Scott expects him to average. Scott conceded the team “ran out of gas” in trimming a 19-point deficit toward trailing only 85-81 with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter. Yet, second-year guard Jordan Clarkson did not close the game after posting 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Lou Williams stayed in the game because of his 18 points on a 6-of-13 clip off the bench. So did Bryant, whom Scott said will likely keep his same minutes despite nursing fatigue. “It’s hard,” Scott said. “He’ll hit a few shots right at the time I want to take him out.”That did not happen often against Atlanta. Bryant missed his first five attempts. He struggled with both mid-range jumpers (0 of 8) and 3-point shots (2-of-10). Bryant only showed some rhythm when he made consecutive 3-pointers midway through the third quarter, a sequence that prompted the Lakers’ 37-year-old star to throw out three fingers with each hand. ATLANTA >> The time gave Kobe Bryant a chance both to recharge and to strategize. But then an announcement blared over the loudspeaker as the Atlanta Hawks soon played a minute-long video on their scoreboard on Friday at Philips Arena.The video showcased highlights of Bryant’s 20-year NBA career. In Bryant’s tribute video, former Hawks player Dominique Wilkens then said, “I’ll see you in the Hall.” Bryant then tapped his heart and waved to the sell-out crowd of 19,051 fans, most of whom wore his Lakers’ No. 24 jersey. But nowhere did Bryant actually show many in-game highlights. The Lakers’ 100-87 loss to the Atlanta Hawks featured the return of Bryant shooting inefficiently before conceding tired legs.“Not very good,” said Bryant, who scored 14 points on only 4-of-19 shooting in 35 minutes. “They’ve been better.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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