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.
Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46
When it comes to shooting, the Claremore Lady Zebras would rather drain three pointers than free throws.
Claremore’s Monica Taylor converted four of her six treys in the second half for a game-high 18 points as the Lady Zebras held off Collinsville, 49-46 in the season opener Tuesday night at the Claremore High School Gym.
As the buzzer sounded, the Claremore Zebras found themselves in an unfamiliar place.
For the first time in two years, the Zebras were on the winning side of the scoreboard and pumping each other’s chests after their 43-29 season-opening victory over the Collinsville Cardinals.
Berryhill sweeps Sequoyah in opener
The Berryhill Chiefs boys’ basketball team spoiled the Claremore Sequoyah Eagles’ season opener with a dominant 69-44 road win Tuesday night at Olan Graham field house.
The Chiefs rained down with 10 3-pointers against the Eagles (0-1, 0-0).
Cards soar past Sperry
In a big Class 3A gun down, No. 3 Verdigris had more weapons than No. 6 Sperry.
In their home opener, the 2-0 Cardinals buried eight three-point shots and converted 21-of-23 free throws in rolling past the Pirates 69-54.
Battenfield, Hanslovan spark No. 4 Lady Cards past Sperry
Fourth-ranked Verdigris shot nearly 50 percent and forced Sperry into 22 turnovers, finally pulling away for a 73-41 home opening victory Tuesday night in Class 3A girls basketball.
NFL: Cowboys' Hatcher savors rest, shrugs off rust
Jason Hatcher is happy to have the rest and not worried about accumulating rust.
The Dallas defensive tackle and his teammates were back at work Tuesday - but only for meetings - after having nine of the previous 19 days off thanks to a late bye and their annual mini-bye after Thanksgiving.
NFL: Ravens' Tucker shows range in kicking and singing
The Baltimore Ravens most formidable offensive threat these days is Justin Tucker, a quirky fellow whose skill set transcends kicking a football with uncanny accuracy.
Despite scoring only one touchdown in each of its last two games, Baltimore won twice because Tucker kicked four field goals against the New York Jets and five more in a 22-20 victory over Pittsburgh.
NFL: Vikings QB Cassel on track to start for Ponder
Matt Cassel stepped on the platform, grasped the podium with both hands, looked around and grinned.
''It's nice being up here. I've never been up here before. It's a pretty nice setup,'' Cassel said as he surveyed the makeshift interview area the Minnesota Vikings have set up next to their indoor practice field.
NFL: Rodgers limited as QB questions linger for Packers
Aaron Rodgers would rather not let the ''Will he-or-won't he'' questions linger until Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers' franchise quarterback expects a decision Friday -Saturday tops - whether he'll be medically cleared to face the Atlanta Falcons in a game crucial to the team's dwindling playoff prospects.
NFL: Patriots re-sign WR Austin Collie
The New England Patriots have re-signed wide receiver Austin Collie.
Collie played four games this season before being released after hurting his knee in a 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 3. He had three catches after signing with the Patriots as a free agent Oct. 3.
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- Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46