Even in a dark suit with a blue shirt and matching pocket square, Kobe Bryant can be tough to stop in a game's final moments.
Just like Bryant had drawn up.
"He pretty much told me what to do that play right there," Young said, recalling the basket that prompted a beaming Bryant to repeatedly point at Young as he came back down the court. "That's why he was smiling at me, like, 'It worked.'"
Blake Griffin knows what it's like to receive encouragement from a sidelined superstar.
Before every game, the Clippers forward hears five words that resonate for the next three hours: No one can guard you.
It's just a little pep talk from point guard Chris Paul, who like Bryant has been out more than a month because of injury but whose influence has remained very much in play.
"I just try to be there, be a voice if they need somebody to bounce things off of and tell them what I see," said Paul, who could return Sunday when the Clippers host the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center.
Paul and Bryant have spent more time this season as highly paid advisors than they would have liked. Paul has been out since Jan. 3 because of a separated right shoulder, missing 17 games. Bryant has missed 43 games — 19 while recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon and 24 after suffering a fracture in his left knee six games into his return.
One major difference between their experiences: The Clippers have largely thrived without their All-Star, going 11-6, while the Lakers (17-32) have sunk to near the bottom of the Western Conference standings without their all-time leading scorer.
Bryant is not expected to come back until after the All-Star break, meaning he will miss more games than he has in any other 82-game season; his previous low for games played in a full season was 65.
"He hasn't really been out for this long stretch in his entire career," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said, "but he's been helpful, he's been giving out tips to different players and just trying to stay involved and engaged."
Always fashionably outfitted in a suit or sport coat, Bryant prefers a spot at the end of the bench near reserve center Chris Kaman. He has been a slightly less visible presence than he was late last season, when he tweeted during a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs and later intently listened during timeout huddles.
Now he's often lingering on the periphery, though teammates say his voice remains a constant. Forward Wesley Johnson said Bryant will outline opponents' tendencies and pass along tips on the best way to defend a certain player. He also has told new point guard Kendall Marshall how to get teammates open.
Bryant seems to get particularly animated any time Young makes a big play.
"He's been helping me all year," Young, now injured himself, said of Bryant, who has not spoken with reporters in a couple of weeks. "Trying to get us to have that fight, talking to me and telling me to just go out there and play hard. … Just hearing what he has to say is big to all of us."
It's the same with Paul, the Clippers' leading vocalist. He sits on the bench between assistant coach Kevin Eastman and a rotating set of teammates, always watching, usually talking.
"You can hear his voice throughout the game just like he's out there," Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said.
"His voice goes a long way," Collison said. "You're talking about one of the greatest point guards in the world trying to help you out."