In the aftermath of the Lakers’ embarrassing loss at the hands of the Wizards on Friday, any remotely astute observer could tell you that there was plenty of blame to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant.
It’s not a bad thing in Bryant’s eyes; he’ll gladly take all of the heat anytime his team loses. In this particular case, it was well-deserved.
In addition to Bryant’s lack of team defense, which has been a consistent issue all season, his going into hero-mode offensively down the stretch made it easier than it needed to be for Washington to hang on for the victory.
We all saw it, and Bryant’s teammates and head coach saw it, too. Just don’t expect them to go on record as saying so.
Dwight Howard (as seen in the video clip above, via Shahan Ahmed of NBC Los Angeles) gave only a smirk as his response to a question of how Trevor Ariza, who torched the Lakers for 25 points and knocked down seven three-pointers, consistently got so wide open for those looks.
Mike D’Antoni had plenty to say in his postgame press conference, but stayed away from a pointed question where the response would have clearly been to blame Bryant for the team’s late-game staleness offensively.
The question was something to the effect of, what did he attribute to the ball sticking on offensive possessions late in that fourth quarter.
You can see D’Antoni’s response here, and it’s pretty hilarious.
“Oh, I don’t know, that’s a good question,” D’Antoni said, extremely sarcastically. “I wish I knew.”
D’Antoni’s expression told us that of course he knew. But there was no way he was going to say it.
“What, are you going to throw me a piece of dynamite,” he said, after a hearty laugh that suggested we were all in on the same joke.
Howard and D’Antoni handled the situation perfectly. There’s enough drama surrounding the otherworldly expectations placed on this Lakers team given the talent assembled on the roster, and the players and coaches don’t need to feed into that by calling out Bryant on a night where he hurt the team more than he helped on both ends of the floor.