"We just didn't execute," Kobe Bryant said following Sunday's season-ending blowout loss to the Mavericks in Dallas. "We made too many mistakes defensively, and tonight it was just one after the other, and they didn't miss 'em."
To put it mildly. The Mavericks buried the Lakers and their championship run in a hail of 3-pointers, scoring 60 points from downtown, nearly as many as L.A. scored through three quarters (62) from everywhere on the floor. While the Mavs weren't quite this dominant in the first three games, Bryant made clear the Lakers were outplayed throughout. "You have to put the credit in the right place, which is in the Mavs’ locker room. They played extremely well," he said. "Their spacing was excellent. They shot the ball extremely well and their depth hurt us -- every night it was another player stepping up and performing and making big plays. The credit belongs with them."
Looking at the bigger picture, Bryant spoke about Phil Jackson, and the disappointment of sending him into retirement on such a sour note. Moving on without him won't be easy, Bryant said. "It’s tough for me to put into words what he’s done for me. I grew up under him. So, the way I approach things, the way I think about things, not only in basketball but in life in general, a lot of it comes from him because I’ve been around him so much. So, it’s a little weird for me to think about what next year’s going to look like."
The last question asked Bryant Sunday was to name which of the titles he won under Phil was the most satisfying. "Last year's. That was the toughest one to get," he said. By extension, it's reasonable to presume this year's pursuit was even tougher.
Too tough, in the end.
Click below for more video of Bryant...