Kobe Bryant's shooting freezes out Lakers in loss to Thunder

Kobe Bryant's shooting freezes out Lakers in loss to Thunder
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tosses an arm wrap after missing the final shot in the 104-103 loss to the Thunder. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Dreaming of Kevin Durant? Easy to do.

He was a main theme while at Staples Center. And he didn't even play because of a sprained ankle.


It didn't matter, the Lakers losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 104-103, Russell Westbrook more than carrying the load with 31 points and 10 assists.

Westbrook is a nice player, though Durant is the one in the Lakers' down-the-road plans. If Kobe Bryant doesn't implode before then.

Bryant didn't shoot well all night, missing 12 of 15 and the potential game-winner just before time expired.

He pump-faked Andre Roberson into the air but couldn't connect on an off-balance 17-footer. Bryant then took off an athletic sleeve he wore on his left arm and threw it in frustration behind him. He finished with nine points.

"I don't have my legs," Bryant said, adding he got a clean look before his last shot. "It's frustrating."

Lakers Coach Byron Scott added to the tired theory.

"Just overall fatigue," he said. "Wednesday's practice, I thought that he probably did a little too much. He wanted to compete in practice and get guys going. Ultimately, that probably bit us in the butt a little bit."

Scott also wasn't happy with Nick Young because Young wasn't happy with Steven Adams.

Young was ejected after delivering a forearm to the throat of the Thunder center early in the fourth quarter.

Referees initially called an offensive foul on Adams but changed the call after looking at courtside replays, assessing Young a flagrant foul 2 and automatic ejection. He had 10 points at the time.

"I got caught up in the moment, but Adams is a sneaky, dirty player," Young said. "He started talking to me the whole game, but I didn't think I was going to get ejected. I lost my mind a little bit, checked into the crazy house."

Said Scott: "Nick definitely overreacted, and he's too valuable for us to overreact and get kicked out of a game like that."

There's no guarantee Durant would join the Lakers as a free agent in 2016. Nor is there a guarantee Bryant returns after his contract expires in June that year.

Durant said some nice things about him earlier this week, commending Bryant's often abrasive leadership style and saying he would love to play alongside him.


Scott answered with a laugh when asked about it Friday.

"I would love for him to play with Kobe too. Especially from a coaching standpoint," Scott said. "I don't want the NBA to think I'm tampering or anything like that. I'm just answering questions."

A few hours later, there were questions about another Lakers loss.

Jeremy Lin played well, totaling 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He seemed to thirst for the final shot but understood his spot in the pecking order.

"I like game-winners too. I would love to shoot, but I get it," he said. "That guy's the king."

The Lakers have their own former most valuable player and held a brief ceremony for him before Friday's game.

Bryant was joined at midcourt by his wife and two daughters. He was presented with two large balloon arrangements and a framed poster of him topping Jordan for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list, which happened while the team was on the road earlier this week.

He wasn't very strong in the scoring column against Oklahoma City, though he had eight assists and eight rebounds.

Durant is 44 points behind Scott for 127th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Durant wasn't about to pass him Friday after coming down on the foot of Warriors center Marreese Speights the previous night.

"I'm a big Durant fan. I love Kevin. Not only basketball-wise. Just as a person," Scott said. "I saw that [Thursday] night and I was like, 'Damn. I just hope he misses [our] game. And then I hope he's well the rest of the season.'"

The greater question for the Lakers is when they're going to get well. Or, rather, if.