LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 36 points and hit 18 of 18 free throws in his team's 99-96 victory over the Thunder in Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center.
Here is a portion of Bryant's interview session that took place after deadline:
What was the key to controlling tempo in Games 2 and 3?
"We've done a really good job controlling the pace of the game and being physical. But as you see, even tonight, you see stretches of their explosiveness. They just go on runs quickly. In 45 seconds to one minute they can go on a 7-0, 8-0 run, so we've really got to be careful with the ball, keep them out of transition."
How fueled were you by how Game 2 ended with you not getting to take the final shot?
"It didn't mean that much to me. You have to take the good with the bad. Mentally, that just doesn't bother me. There's going to be games where I win them and there's going to be games where I lose them. When I lose them, everybody is going to criticize and say what they have to say, but I don't care. I take it like a champ. I forgot about the last game already. I just come out and do my job and move on to the next one."
How taxing is it to remain so aggressive throughout the game?
"It's not taxing; it's fun. It's a challenge, right? We all enjoy that. I certainly do. You want to be against an opponent that you respect and you know is going to bring it physically and mentally. That's extremely enjoyable."
How were you able to get to the line so many times?
"Defensively, they really tried to crowd us, especially me. They really tried to crowd me. I drive the ball and just be aggressive. I'll get those calls most of the time and get to the free-throw line."
Do you think the Thunder was taken aback by your comeback tonight?
"I don't know if they were taken aback. This team we're playing really seems to just go out there and just play. They don't seem to get too high or too low. They just go out there and do their jobs."
Your thought on having to play back-to-back?
"We just show up ready to work, ready to play. Get your big-boy pants on and leave your diaper at home."
Is there enough time to rest?
"Not if it's an up-and-down game, no. We don't have a shot. We could both be extremely well-rested and we wouldn't have a shot, so we've got to slow the game down, play our pace, play our tempo, and we'll be fine."
It seems like you're deferring more to teammates.
"It's good defense. They try to crowd me and surround me and force other guys to shoot the ball. They're long and they're active. I could finish running a marathon, I'm still thinking, 'Shoot first.' That's just how I am. If the defense is sitting in there crowding the lane, my guys are wide open. I've got to kick it to them."
You were matched up one-on-one against former teammate Derek Fisher a few times. How did that go?
"The same result as all those times we were playing one-on-one all those times in the gym by ourselves. No different. I love him, but he's a midget."