Below is a transcription of Kobe Bryant’s postgame quotes after one of the better individual performances of the season – 36 points on 15 of 25 shooting with five steals while primarily guarding Chris Paul (11 for 25 shooting) – came up just short, the Lakers trimming a 19-point fourth quarter lead to two before ultimately losing by six.
Q: On the loss and assessing where the team is at in terms of needing time to gel and yet not having time because of their standing:
Bryant: You got to just lock in and keep pushing forward. We played extremely well, we played well in the fourth quarter defensively and we just kind of got to rely on that a little bit.
Q: On what the team can take away from their fourth-quarter play on the defensive end:
Bryant: We have to watch the film and try to understand the adjustments that we made from the first three quarters. A lot of it was really in transition. They’re extremely athletic and they did a good job running, getting out, getting momentum points and getting some easy baskets.
Q: On his performance and trying to pull the team together with his play:
Bryant: I was just playing my game and just doing my job. Just trying to be patient and trying to make big shots when we needed them, and make the right plays defensively.
Q: On his frustration level right now:
Bryant: It’s pretty frustrating. We just have to get really intense, serious and really focused.
Q: On Chris Paul’s performance down the stretch:
Bryant: He’s very smart and he’s crafty. To his credit, he made some pretty tough shots – the shot at the (end of) the half and then the shot that he made that made it a six-point game – but superstar players will do that.
Q: On his assessment of the team’s offensive/defensive performance:
Bryant: It wasn’t good enough. Whatever grade I give, the bottom line is it wasn’t good enough, so we have to do better.
Q: On using Pau Gasol at the high post:
Bryant: I don’t know. I’m not really sure. But we have to figure that out and we need to go through him a lot, a lot more – a lot, a lot more. He needs more touches on that elbow, more touches on the post. He’s not a scorer type of a person, and he’ll be the first to admit that, but he can make plays for others from down there, he can control the game from down there and we have to figure out a way to get him more active.
Q: On how that can change:
Bryant: A lot of it is tough because you have him and Dwight (Howard) in the game at the same time. Where are you going to put Dwight? So, you have to figure out that spacing, but he needs to have the ball, for sure.
Bryant: Pau (Gasol) just has to continue to be patient. Obviously, he’s frustrated and he has every right to be, and I’m frustrated for him. But that’s something we’re going to have to solve because we won’t get to where we want to go with him not playing at maximum potential or not using his maximum potential.
Q: On the difference with the spacing on offense, Gasol playing with Bynum and Howard:
Bryant: It’s pretty different. They do different things. Andrew (Bynum) you can move to the elbow to shoot the ball and things like that. The dynamics are a little different, although it was tough for Pau (Gasol) and Andrew to play together as well.
Q: On the dunk in the first quarter over CP3:
Bryant: I honestly was running, I jumped, the explosiveness was there and it shocked the s— out of me, and I just decided to dunk it.
Q: On starting games slow:
Bryant: I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s something that I will have to figure out, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s getting loose. Teams come out a little fresher, come out a little more energized, you see them run the court and get a lot of dunks in transition, and it takes us a while to get our motor going to creep back in games. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know.
Q: On running pick and rolls late in games:
Bryant: Our pick and roll situation is fine. Steve (Nash) is incredible at it and puts guys in situations to be successful. Whether they make the shot or not, that’s on them. But he makes all the right decisions and I’m very comfortable being on the back side of that, and making guys pick and choose.
Q: On Chris Paul being clutch:
Bryant: We all make some and miss some, but the most important thing is guys who aren’t afraid of that moment. That’s what the most important thing is you have that and you’re not going to be afraid of that moment. You kind of ride or die with that success, and he’s not afraid of that.
Q: On what is lacking in games where he has to carry the load:
Bryant: We did a pretty good job tonight. We gave them some free throws down the stretch, which helped them preserve their lead, but we made the right plays. Guys had shots that didn’t go in for them. That’s the nature of the beast. All we can do – and all I can do, and all Steve (Nash) can do – is just be responsible and make the right play.