Kobe Bryant never had endured a game quite like the one he had Saturday afternoon.
Bryant was shut out through the first three quarters, missing his first 15 shots from the field.
But after that frigid shooting start, Bryant rebounded to hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to lead the Los Angeles Lakers’ 88-85 victory over New Orleans.
Bryant scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, finishing with a historically struggling 3-for-21 shooting effort against the Hornets.
He missed his first seven 3-pointers before finally sinking his game-winning shot. It was the worst start to a game in Bryant’s career, having previously missed his first 13 shots against the Spurs on Dec. 28, 2010.
“I couldn’t put the ball in the ocean,” Bryant told reporters after the game. ”But I’m stubborn. You have to have that kind of attitude, that kind of determination or stubbornness. That’s what gets teams over the hump to win multiple championships.
“If I were to miss that shot, everybody would have killed me.”
Bryant, 33, ranks third in the NBA with an average of 38.6 minutes per game. He said the extended minutes caused by the league’s compact 66-game has caused him to be fatigued and the results were seen in Saturday’s game.
“Fatigue might have something to do with it, but I had good shots,” Bryant told ESPN Los Angeles. “You figure ways to work through it. I have a great team here and a lot of support. I really pushed myself defensively tonight to get after the guys, so sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit of the offense and the stamina that you have to defend. That’s what we believe is going to get us to the championship.”
Despite his struggles, Bryant’s big shot pulled the Lakers to the victory — even if he belonged more under the Duds lists than the Studs for Saturday’s action.
Los Angeles Clippers G Chris Paul: Went for 26 points and six assists after returning from an elbow injury earlier in the Clippers’ victory over Utah.
Los Angeles Clippers F Blake Griffin: Muscled for 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists and was a team-best plus-17 in the Clippers’ victory over Utah.
Philadelphia F Elton Brand: Notched 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and was plus-11 in the Sixers’ victory over Atlanta.
New Jersey G Deron Williams: Filled the box score with 19 points, six rebounds, 15 assists, three steals and was plus-5 in the Nets’ victory at Sacramento.
San Antonio F Tim Duncan: Went for 23 points (including 9 for 9 from the foul line), 11 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and was plus-7 in the Spurs’ triumph over Indiana — their seventh straight victory.
Atlanta F Josh Smith: Produced 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and was plus-2 in the Hawks’ loss at Philadelphia.
Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant: Went 3 for 21 from the field after missing his first 15 shots with a turnover in the Lakers’ victory over New Orleans.
New York G Landry Fields: Clanked through a 2-for-8 shooting effort with six turnovers in the Knicks’ victory over Cleveland.
Cleveland G Lester Hudson: Hit 2 for 8 from the field with four turnovers and was minus-6 in the Cavaliers’ loss to New York.
Philadelphia C Spencer Hawes: Struggled through a 2-for-7 shooting night with four turnovers and was minus-3 in the Sixers’ victory over Atlanta.
Milwaukee G Monta Ellis: Went 2 for 12 from the field with three turnovers in the Bucks’ loss to Memphis.