Was Tuesday night your best 13-point game of your career? I don’t know. I was just being aggressive, getting in the paint and making them make decisions. When I do that, I collapse the defense and they just got to make a choice. After all you’ve been through you wanted (to defend) Russell Westbrook, too? Is that some kind of new therapy? I enjoy the challenge. He’s been playing sensational. If we’re going to be eliminated, I don’t want to go into summer thinking I could have done something about it. So I accept the challenge. Everyone knows you’ve got some kind of knee soreness. Westbrook’s a blur. How did you do that? Just being a savvy old dog, I guess. Phil Jackson said you went to him Monday and asked for the assignment. Why now, at this point in the series? It’s about time. We got to make some adjustments. Ron (Artest) is working extremely hard on (Kevin) Durant. Russell does such a great job of getting in the paint. And I think I’m a pretty good defensive player myself so I decided to take the assignment. With two days off to rest and a pretty light night Tuesday, do you think this series is starting to break right for you guys schedule-wise? Schedule-wise, yeah. We just got to get rest, get ready and see if we can’t have a better showing in Oklahoma than we did the last time. How are you handling expectations you have to score 40 and when you don’t people suggesting it has something to do with your physical condition or age? If I didn’t have Pau (Gasol), Andrew (Bynum) and the crew that I have, I’d score 45, 50 points. Then everybody would say, ‘He shoots too much.’ I got a great crew. I don’t need to do that. I can pick my poison. So when I get in the paint, teams have to make choices. If they play me, I’ll kick it to my guys and they’ll score and have big nights. If they don’t, then I’ll have a big night. It’s as simple as that. How much of that is maturity, and would you have responded this way maybe earlier in your career? And pass it to who? I would have had 55 or 60 points. There’s a perception, though, that you’re managing what you do in managing the game and what you have to give right now? I have guys that I can manage. It’s different when you have weapons. You can kind of pick you poison. It’s like conducting an orchestra, a symphony, when you have guys that you can use on a play or go to in certain situations. In the past I didn’t. How is it a different kind of enjoyment for you exerting your influence on the game defensively? It’s more of a thrill on the defensive side of things because it’s harder. The guy with the ball obviously dictates tempo. So it’s a bigger thrill for me personally as opposed to scoring or whatever. You said after Game 4 that you didn’t know the mind frame of your team. How much more do you know now that you didn’t know after Game 5? I know we won tonight. That’s it. We just move on to the next one. Do you need to know more about what the team is? No. That’s kind of the point. I know enough.
Q&A: kobe bryant