The Los Angeles Lakers walked off their home floor with another loss on Saturday night, leaving the team down 3-1 in the series and on the verge of playoff elimination. And though Kobe Bryant missed eight of 10 shots in the fourth quarter, he insists the 103-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder wasn’t his fault.
Who’s to blame?
Kobe says it’s Pau Gasol.
“Pau’s got to be more assertive,” Bryant said. “He’s the guy they’re leaving [open]. When he’s catching the ball, he’s looking to pass. He’s got to be aggressive. He’s got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will be next game.”
It’s not the first time Bryant has thrown Gasol under the bus with his public criticism. However Gasol wasn’t the only one that Bryant thought was at fault.
Andrew Bynum dominated the first half for the Lakers. And then when the Thunder fronted him with Kendrick Perkins in the second half, Bryant thought Bynum became too passive.
“He’s looking to swing the ball too much,” Bryant said. “He’s got to take his shot.”
As for Gasol, he admits that he made a costly mistake in the fourth quarter (trying a pass to Metta World Peace only to have Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant knock the ball away with 33.9 seconds left), but he says he’s not the only one that made mistakes.
“It’s one play, one mistake,” Gasol said. “There were a lot of mistakes in that fourth quarter, a lot of mistakes throughout the game. So, obviously, if I could have gone back, maybe I could have shot it and I would have. It’s one play, obviously, at a critical time, but I don’t feel like we lost the game because of one turnover.”
The Lakers need to get it together and Kobe needs to stop playing the blame game. With Game 5 on tap for Monday night and the Thunder up 3-1, the Lakers will be dispatched soon enough if they can’t come together quickly.