Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant chose to sit out of his team's regular-season final at Sacramento on Thursday night, which assured Thunder forward Kevin Durant of his third straight scoring title.
Bryant (27.8) would have needed 38 points to beat out Durant (28.0) for this year's crown.
“It's not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know?” Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “If that's the benchmark, that's all you need to do, that's not really hard to do that. The biggest thing, most important thing for me is setting the tone for our team. Our young guys have been very supportive for us all year, and it's important for them to get out and perform as well, for us to be there to support them.
“The scoring title is not that important. We know I can do it. We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group, which is putting a championship above all else.”
Has Bryant contacted Durant to congratulate him?
“Nah,” Durant said Friday.
Anything to add?
“No,” Durant said.
COOK IS COOKIN'
Reserve guard Daequan Cook rediscovered his shooting touch the final three games of the regular season, burying 8 of 15 from 3-point range.
While some scream for more playing time for Cook, keep in mind with previously injured Thabo Sefelosha back in the starting lineup at shooting guard and with the acquisition of veteran point guard Derek Fisher, Cook has returned to his previous role as the backup to Durant, who played 116 more minutes than any other NBA player this season.
“The guy in front of him is pretty good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It's hard to get Kevin out of the game. It has nothing to do with DC, it's more to do with Kevin.
“It's nice to know he (Cook) is hitting some shots. He had a tough stretch there like any shooter in this league will have. He's feeling good about his shot and I am, too.”