Off target all night, Kobe Bryant sure was on point when it was over.
His frustration stood out like a breakaway dunk, his comments sharper than any shot he took, after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Chicago Bulls 95-83 Monday night. The Lakers have lost nine of 11 and six straight on the road.
"I remember being frustrated before, but this is different because there are so many pieces, so many things going on,'' Bryant said. "It is a little different.''
Where to start with this one?
Well, there was Kirk Hinrich scoring a season-high 22 points, Marco Belinelli adding 15 points, and the Bulls pulling away down the stretch.
Belinelli came up big in the closing minutes, scoring eight points during an 18-4 run that broke a 75-75 tie. He started it by hitting two free throws after getting fouled by Dwight Howard with 6:54 left in the game, and wrapped two 3-pointers around a layup by Los Angeles' Earl Clark, making it 89-79 with 2:27 remaining.
The Lakers' loss came after coach Mike D'Antoni made a surprise lineup switch. He used Pau Gasol off the bench, while starting Clark because he wanted more quickness, but the slide continued on a night when Bryant and Howard were mostly nonfactors against a Bulls team without Luol Deng and still awaiting the return of Derrick Rose.
Steve Nash led the Lakers with 18 points, while Bryant finished with just 16 on 7-of-22 shooting, ending a run of 24 games with 20 or more points.
"Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool,'' Bryant said. "It is embarrassing. It is not even embarrassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable.''
Bryant even mentioned ditching D'Antoni's up-tempo style in favor of posting up more.
"We're going to have to look at some things,'' he said. "We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something.''
Howard had just eight points and nine rebounds while picking up five fouls. Clark and Metta World Peace scored 12 apiece, and Gasol added 15 points and 12 rebounds in his new reserve role.
"It isn't against him, it's better for us right now,'' D'Antoni said of Gasol before the game. "We're going to try to work through it and see what we can do. Things do change, things happen, I can't see the future but we're ready to go forward.''
The move caught Gasol off guard.
"I have no idea,'' he said when asked about his future in Los Angeles. "I can't really worry about something that is out of my hands so I am just going to stay positive and do my best, but it is not something I am too thrilled about. I wasn't expecting it. But right now we have bigger things to worry about as a group. As a team player that's what I'm most concerned about.''
Hinrich hit 9 of 11 shots and nailed three 3-pointers. Belinelli and Nate Robinson (11 points) also hit three, and the Bulls were 9 of 17 overall from long range.
Joakim Noah added 13 rebounds and a season-best six blocks after sitting out the final 22 minutes, 53 seconds of Saturday's loss to Memphis. He blamed himself for the benching the other night, saying, "That was all me.''
Noah was angry at coach Tom Thibodeau for taking him out of the game and acknowledged saying some things he regretted. He wouldn't say if he and Thibodeau discussed the incident, but he made it clear he had no one to blame but himself.
"I admit it,'' he said. "It was my fault. I shouldn't have said the things that I said.''
Carlos Boozer chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 13, although he shot just 6 of 18. Jimmy Butler, making his second straight start with Deng (sore right hamstring) sidelined, scored 10 while trying to guard Bryant. And Chicago won this one in regulation after playing three straight overtime games.
Off target all night, Kobe Bryant sure was on point when it was over.
Gasso trusts that Ricketts will find her timing again
Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts was not at her best on Sunday. The defending USA Softball Player of the Year didn’t give up a run in her two and two-thirds innings of work, but she was far from the dominant pitcher who tossed a no-hitter last week.
Sooners claim regular season finale with win over K-State
Oklahoma managed to end the regular season on a positive note Sunday. Kolbey Carpenter went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs to help power the Sooners to a 7-3 victory over Kansas State at Tointon Stadium.
Chamberlain's curtain call only the beginning
The chant reaching near-deafening levels, Lauren Chamberlain finally realized what she was supposed to do.
Moments after blasting a three-run home run that broke open what had been a close regional final, the sophomore tepidly stepped up out of the dugout and waved to the home crowd, enjoying the first curtain call of her career.
OU's dominant victory a shining example of how tough Sooners are in softball
On the first day Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso thought it was better to go with Michelle Gascoigne over Keilani Ricketts against Arkansas’ bats, the Sooners beat the Razorbacks by five runs.
A day later Gasso had the same thought. OU prevailed by 13 runs.
Cowboys fall short in Big 12 regular season finale
Oklahoma State University played catch up the entire game of Saturday’s series finale with West Virginia at Allie P. Reynolds, and never could quite get over the hump.
The Cowboys would respond after each Mountaineer score but it wouldn’t be enough as they lost the finale 5-4 on Senior Day.
Referees stop Lake Eufaula Classic with South on top
It was an outcome unlike any in the 29 years of the Lake Eufaula Classic, and a bruise different than any player has ever departed with.
Officials, following the second serious skirmish of the game, walked off the field and the game was called, the South leading the North 12-10 at Paul Bell Stadium.
Grand Junction Bound: Connors State advances to JUCO World Series
All season long, Connors State coach Perry Keith has said his team was winning a lot of ball games ugly.
On Saturday, the game between the Cowboys and No. 1 Delgado (La.) was anything but as Connors beat the Dolphins 3-1 to capture the South Central district championship and a berth in next week’s NJCAA College World Series.
Young Americans waste no time qualifying for Indy 500
Bump Day at Indianapolis followed the script.
No surprises, no drama and no drivers getting bumped.
On a day devoid of tension and rumors, all nine drivers who made attempts on the second and final day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications made it into the 33-car field, led by two young Americans - Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal - who easily had the two fastest cars on the track.
NCAA WOMEN'S BB: Texas Tech hires OSU assistant Candi Whitaker
Texas Tech has hired Oklahoma State assistant Candi Whitaker to coach its women's basketball team.
The school announced Monday that the former Lady Raiders player would return to her alma mater as coach. The move comes about a week after Kristy Curry left for Alabama.
Pacers, Heat start bracing to square off again
A year ago when Miami and Indiana faced off in the postseason, there were blood-drawing hits, flagrant fouls, technical fouls, choke signs being directed toward LeBron James and more than a few sharp-tongued comments.
Here they possibly go again, at least on the comment front.
The Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and Pacers won't begin until Wednesday night, but there's already signs that the animosity present throughout last season's Miami-Indiana second-round series will likely return this time around.
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