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Kobe Bryant's game evolves in Lakers' win over Rockets

January 4, 2012 |  7:04 am

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Each basket throughout the Lakers' 108-99 victory Tuesday over the Houston Rockets brought a varying picture to the never-ending debate about Kobe Bryant's shot selection.

Bryant threw a shot off the backboard with his left hand in the first quarter and converted the putback with his right hand. That shows Bryant's ability to compensate on the torn ligament in his right wrist.

After making his first three shots, Bryant missed nine of his next 11 to close the half, partly prompting Andrew Bynum to enter the locker room feeling frustrated. That shows Bryant's stubbornness in firing away despite the Lakers having a better option in the post.

Bryant then came out of the second half shooting nine of 15 by finding shots off the ball and in the post. That shows Bryant's effectiveness in finding better shots.

Yet Bryant mainly viewed his 37 points on 14 of 29 shooting as validation for his horrific six of 28 clip in the Lakers' loss Sunday to Denver. "I'm always trying to prove a point," Bryant said jokingly. "That's how I won five championships." In reality, Bryant simply took better shots than the two of seven mark from shots with 16 to 23 feet and the one of eight effort from three-point range against Denver. 

Brown acknowledged the changed shot selection helped, but he also maintained his deference to Bryant because of his skills and five championship rings. "He's been there and done that so I'm going to give him some freedom." In reality, Brown's walking a fine line between giving his superstar appropriate space and ensuring the Lakers exploit their inside game with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Just as Bryant's game evolved throughout the Lakers' win over Houston, so too will the debate's framework. In just one half, Bynum went from feeling upset partly over Bryant's shooting tendencies to enjoying talking about his first 20-point, 20-rebound effort in his six-year career. In just one evening, Brown went from defending his deference to Bryant to basking in how he made adjustments. And in just one day, Pau Gasol went from complaining about the Lakers ignoring their inside game to suggesting the media made too big of a deal about Bryant's shooting against Denver. 

Bryant received rightful criticism for that game, and a rebound effort shouldn't change that. But he also was praised for his shooting adjustments, and that effort should minimize future problems. But with how the nature of Bryant's scoring changes, it always remains hard to predict what will happen next.   


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Kobe Bryant unapologetic about shot selection in loss to Denver

--Mark Medina

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