Kobe Bryant received a hero's welcome before his final game in Philadelphia on Tuesday, and even began the contest looking like the player he once was, if only for a few possessions.
Bryant hit his first two shots from three-point distance, and three of his first four on the way to scoring his team's first 11 points. But the throwback performance was short-lived, and Bryant finished the game missing 18 of his final 22 attempts overall as the Sixers got their first win of the season after an 0-18 start.
Bryant's shooting has been the subject of plenty of criticism this year, and for good reason. He's leading the Lakers in field goal attempts with an average of 17.6 per game, but is making those shots at a clip of just 30.1 percent, which is the lowest of his storied career. And it's not something that we can expect to see change anytime soon, as head coach Byron Scott told reporters afterward.
“Yeah, there’s going to be some games like that that you’re just going to live and die with it,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Bryant’s shooting. “You just hope that you don’t die too much. You hope that you can live a little bit more. Yeah, there’s going to be some nights like that.”
Scott said some of Bryant’s shots were “ill-advised.”
“Got to get some better shots than that,” Scott added, “but other than that, just got to keep playing. I do trust that he’ll get to the point where he’ll make them on a much more consistent basis, but it has just not happened yet.”
There's no indication that Bryant's body will magically come around to the point where he could begin to knock down shots more consistently. If there's a bright side to all of this for Lakers fans, it's that Bryant is going out on his own terms, and the team will lose enough to ensure it keeps its 2016 first round draft pick, which would go to the Sixers if L.A. doesn't finish the season with one of the three worst records in the league.
But it's certainly going to be painful to watch.
Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org