It’s a sight you’re not going to see very often. Kobe Bryant said he wasn’t happy after getting benched in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 102-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night, but he chose his words carefully when discussing the event.
“Of course I was,” Bryant told the media when asked if he was upset about the benching.
Bryant didn’t elaborate much further.
“Not really,” he said when first when asked if he could discuss the substitution, but then went on to support Lakers coach Mike Brown when further pressed on the issue.
“It’s his decision to make,” Bryant said. “He makes the decision. He’s the coach. If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one. I can’t sit here and criticize his decisions. In leading this ball club, that’s something I can’t afford to do. I got to have his back. I’ve had his back the whole season; I can’t start doing something crazy now. It wouldn’t make no sense.”
The Lakers called a timeout in the middle of the fourth quarter after falling behind by double digits. During that timeout, Bryant smacked a chair on the bench after Los Angeles had let a three-point deficit to begin the last period swell into a 14-point cushion for Memphis with 5:45 left in the game.
Bryant’s frustration appeared to increase when he was subbed out of the game in favor of Metta World Peace and stayed out until there was just 1:51 remaining with the Lakers down by nine.
A brief chant of, “Ko-be! Ko-be!” could be heard at Staples Center in the fourth before Brown chose to sub Bryant back into the game.
Brown didn’t offer a specific reason when asked about sitting Bryant.
“I just felt like I needed to make a sub at the time, so I did,” Brown said. “It’s not one particular thing. I just made the sub, went with Metta, sat (Bryant) for a couple minutes and then tried to go back to him but obviously it didn’t work.”
Brown played Bryant the whole third period and his 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting in the fourth helped spark a 15-0 run by the Los Nageles as they wiped out a 14-point deficit. Brown left Bryant in the game to begin the final quarter, however the Grizzlies were quickly able to break it open and rebuild a 14-point lead with Bryant on the floor.
“I usually don’t like to run him because he ends up playing a ton of minutes,” Brown said. “He was at 38 (minutes), 27 (seconds) tonight but I don’t like to run him a whole half if I can help it. If I can give him a minute or two here or there, then I will.”
- LA Story: Brown Benches Bryant (hangtime.blogs.nba.com)
- Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Must Swallow Pride Regarding 4th-Quarter Benching (bleacherreport.com)
- Kobe Bryant Refuses To Criticize Mike Brown (tracking.si.com)