Brown's inability to restrain himself from playing Bryant — last season and again through all except the last 22 second-half seconds Friday night even before the Sunday night incident — is a reflection of Brown's basic inclination to do more, not less, to feel well prepared. The question logically follows when Bryant semi-scoffs at having literally to retie his shoes and drag his sore foot back into the game when a lead of 31 points to start the fourth quarter is trimmed to 24 points whether it was weakness or strength that dictated Brown's decision.
About re-entering the game for Brown, Bryant said he “didn't want him to have an ulcer or have a heart attack over there.”
Bryant certainly remembers that Jackson built part of his legend on not taking timeouts to bail out his team, forcing guys to come up with answers to prepare them for trying times in the playoffs. That patience, intricately tied to player development, was one of Jackson's great strengths.
Yet Brown did succeed at locking up the victory over Detroit, it should be noted. Bryant, Dwight Howard and shortly after Pau Gasol held the lead. Howard was subbed out with a 25-point lead and 5:33 left, with Bryant and Gasol following a minute later.
No irrevocable damage was done to have tacked 41/2 minutes on to Bryant's clock, and Brown builds some momentum, no doubt, that helps the Lakers' confidence tonight when Utah will enjoy one of the NBA's most challenging home-court advantages.
But again, was it strength or weakness that drove Brown's decision, which he explained by saying the 0-3 record made winning more essential?
It looked weak. It felt weak. And it was weak.
Being pulled at that moment is not going to help Devin Ebanks trust himself any faster, especially the next time he makes a mistake and needs to push through his adversity. The rush for Bryant and Howard to save the day is not going to make Antawn Jamison come around to the belief that he can produce without being wholly dependent on Bryant or Howard for great looks.
Brown gains the impression of some dominance.
He loses some of the trust that the dominance will certainly come on its own.
This isn't about avoiding losing a first-round playoff series — which, unlike Jackson, Brown has managed to do his entire career.
This is about winning it all.
And even in the one strong effort so far in Mike Brown's one real season, the Lakers didn't act like a team expecting to win it all.
MCT Information Services