After losing the fourth game this season at Staples Center, controversy started to swirl in Los Angeles as Lakers head coach Mike Brown made the bold and questionable decision to bench superstar Kobe Bryant for the better part of the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. Kobe was clearly unhappy about sitting on the bench, but didn’t criticize his coach for the controversial move via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“Of course I was,” Bryant told reporters when asked if he was upset about the benching.
Bryant hesitated to elaborate. “Not really,” he said at first when asked if he could speak about the substitution, but went on to support Lakers coach Mike Brown when further pressed about the benching.
“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 ballclub, 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.”
There is no question that Pau Gasol is back to form after the NBA trade deadline and Andrew Bynum is getting better and better with every single game, but Kobe Bryant has struggled shooting the basketball. It seems that after an impressive MVP-caliber first half of the season, the Black Mamba has slipped into somewhat of a slump as of late. Kobe scored just 18 points on 7-of-15 from the field against Memphis.
Last night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (102-96) was a tough one to swallow for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bynum may have lit up the scoreboard once again with a game-high 30 points and Gasol dominated the glass with 14 boards, but this team just couldn’t get on track late in the game in order to cut the deficit and get the best of the Grizzlies.
Despite impressive performances by Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Ramon Sessions (18 points, five assists), the Grizzlies were the better team on Sunday night. The question from here on out is whether or not head coach Mike Brown will continue to choose to rest Kobe with the playoffs just around the corner, and if the five-time champion will refrain from criticizing his new head coach.