Standing at his locker, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sensed the minutes passing.
With the Lakers’ 139-137 triple-overtime victory Monday over the Phoenix Suns lasting 3 hours and 9 minutes, he expressed no interest in prolonging the night any longer, even if it was for only another three minutes.
“We’re not having three overtimes with these damn questions,” Bryant said. “Last one.”
After expressing pleasure with the Lakers’ (51-20) five-game winning steak and 13-1 mark since the All-Star break, Bryant then briskly walked away, leaving several questions unasked.
Some of them included the state of his left ankle after he scored a team-leading 42 points on 15-of-31 shooting, the third time this season Bryant scored at least 40 points. Also unasked was any response to Lakers Coach Phil Jackson questioning his shot selection and highlighting a disconnect between the two in communicating plays. Jackson instead provided the details surrounding Bryant’s ankle (“It didn’t look like he was affected”) and his wish that they had communicated better (“I don’t think I got the signal to him or the information to him in time”).
But it didn’t prove costly, even if Bryant missed a nine-foot floater with 10.9 seconds left in regulation with the score tied at 112 and went zero-of-four from the field in the first overtime.
Instead, Bryant provided some key plays to secure the victory. His 20-foot jumper and assist to Pau Gasol gave the Lakers a 127-123 lead with 2:23 left in the second overtime. Bryant’s 26-foot three-pointer lifted the Lakers to an 133-132 edge with 2:09 remaining in the third overtime. And his high-arcing shot over Phoenix forward Channing Frye secured a 139-135 advantage with 14.2 seconds left, an attempt Jackson described as “wild and unorthodox.”
Bryant remained pretty mum about his own performance, saying, “I felt fine.” He sounded more enthusiastic addressing other topics.
Bryant showed public support for Lakers forward Lamar Odom: “He’s the sixth man of the year.” He reveled in hurting the Suns’ (35-34) slim playoff chances: “I can’t say I didn’t enjoy doing that.” And he expressed amusement over Lakers forward Ron Artest kissing his biceps after a dunk that gave the Lakers a 135-132 lead with 1:53 remaining: “Basketball, at the end of the day, is a game we’ve been playing since we were kids. It’s important to remember that and enjoy ourselves out there.”
Bryant surely appeared that way on the court. He just didn’t afterward.