Kobe Bryant: I called play for Andrew Bynum against Celtics, not Mike Brown
Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum hit a late-game jump hook against the Celtics, and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said it was his idea to overrule a play drawn up by coach Mike Brown.
The Los Angeles Lakers took out the Boston Celtics in the latest installment of their classic rivalry on Sunday, and while the Lakers were clutch down the stretch, the game's final possessions weren't without some theatre.
Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant hit a go-ahead jumper to put L.A. up 95-94 with 41 seconds left. After a stop on the other end, Bryant brought the ball up court, only to have his chance to put the game away dashed by Lakers coach Mike Brown, who called a timeout.
That decision sent Bryant to the bench shaking his head and smiling, and after the timeout was called the Lakers went into All-Star center Andrew Bynum, who delivered a short jump hook over Celtics forward Kevin Garnett to provide the 97-94 final score.
In a televised post-game interview, though, Bryant made sure to point out that it was his decision, not coach Brown's, to feed Bynum on the final possession. In fact, Bryant said he told Bynum to scrap the play Brown called in the huddle to improvise a look that would find the ball in the big center's hands.
"Man, look, everybody in here thought it was coming to me," Bryant said, referencing his well-known reputation for taking and making game-deciding shots. "Andrew has improved so much. I felt like it's important to trust him in that situation and throw the ball to him. They've had a hard time dealing with him all night long. Decided to give it to him and he went to work."
Bryant said that his decision to turn over the offense to Bynum in that crucial situation came with some advice.
"I told him, 'We're going to come to you. We're not going to do this play right here, we're going come to you, post you. Be strong. If they come and double, make the easy play. If they don't, do what you do.'"
At All-Star Weekend in Orlando, CBSSports.com's Royce Young reported that Bynum told reporters he was hoping for more late-game looks, as the Lakers' offense often degenerates into Bryant going 1-on-5.
"Crunch-time has been tough for us," Bynum said at the time. "Because we're not moving the ball, not playing the same style of basketball that got us where we were at. And really, that has a lot to do with the coaches and just kind of getting people in the spots that are going to make them successful... If I'm doing good things with my touches, I just have to get the ball."
Bryant saw Sunday night as step one in that developmental process.
"It's big for him because that's the first time we've ever trusted him in that situation," he said. "He was excited to be in that position. It was just a good moment... It will do wonders for his confidence. He's been getting better and better every game. To come through in the clutch against a great defensive player like [Kevin] Garnett, it's really going to give him a great boost."
Here's video of Bynum's late jump hook over Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics.
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