MINNEAPOLIS -- On second glance, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown said that it wasn't poor shot selection from Kobe Bryant or anyone else that cost the Lakers in their epic collapse against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
"I thought we had three or four guys that took bad shots that led to run outs and we didn't," Brown said after the team's Friday morning shootaround in Minneapolis. "I thought we took great shots. We missed shots in the second half, but we took great shots."
So his postgame criticism of Bryant's 9-for-31 shooting performance was off-base?
"I thought Kobe, as well as three other guys, I said to all of those guys in the film session: 'I was wrong, your shot selection was fine,'" Brown said.
Instead, Brown said, the Lakers' poor play and turnovers at the end of the third and fourth quarters are what caused them to blow a 21-point, third-quarter lead to the team with the second-worst record in the NBA.
"Our biggest culprit, after watching the game and charting it, the last two minutes and nine seconds of the third quarter, we had four straight turnovers and they outscored us 11-0," he said. "And then the end of the fourth quarter, they outscore us 9-4. So if you take the last three minutes of the fourth and the last two minutes of the third, we got outscored 20-4. That's one of the things we try to take pride in is closing quarters, finishing quarters the right way and we didn't."
Brown also said that he was fine with Bryant hoisting up 31 shots.
"Yeah, if they're good shots," he said. "Don't get me wrong, that's a lot of shots. You hope that it's spread out more. But Kobe's been taking a lot of shots his whole career and he's had success with it. If he's open, I'm OK with him taking it. That's how I was with LeBron (James). If he's open, I'm OK with him taking it. If Tim Duncan is open, I'm OK with him taking it."
Bryant wasn't necessarily ready to accept the apology.
When asked about surpassing 29,000 points in his career with 34 points Friday night against the Timberwolves, Bryant sarcastically said, "Lot of great shot selection."
When told Brown had walked back his earlier criticism of his shot selection against the Wizards, Bryant smiled and said, "Everybody makes mistakes."
Tensions between Brown and his players hit a boiling point after Wednesday's game, as sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com that there is growing concern among some Lakers players as to whether Brown and his staff have the X-and-O wherewithal to fix a Lakers offense that is averaging its lowest per-game point total (94) since before the advent of the 24-second shot clock in 1954-55.
"When we lose, stuff's not great," he said, "but I'm the same dumb cat I was two games ago when we were 8-2 after beating Miami. Stuff doesn't change over night. But the feel of it, and the way people make things when you lose and you lose games that everybody thinks you should walk into the gym and win, now they try to find excuses or reasons and now the world is falling. But I mean, that's part of being in this business."
Asked Friday whether he felt players were buying into his offensive schemes, Brown said he felt the Lakers' statistics over the past 10 games suggested that they were.
"The only way to really know is if you look at the record as of late and you look at the improvement on offense," he said. "You take the whole year and we're 9th and 21st in those two categories (field goal percentage and scoring). You take the last 10 games, we're 5th and 12th. Are we getting better? Are they buying in? I think the numbers will tell the truth.
"We're in the top 10 in field goal percentage and we're dead last in 3-point field goal percentage. If we were at least halfway through the pack, we'd be probably the number two or three offensive team in the league, efficiency wise."
Brown said he believes field goal percentage is a better way to measure the strength of a team's offense than points scored because the pace at which a post-up team like the Lakers plays limits its offensive possessions.
"At times they feel like our offense is this or that, but really if you talk black and white numbers, the whole year we're a top 10 field goal percentage team," Brown said. "We're not going to score a ton of points, but as long as we're efficient I'm OK. Because we're not built to score a ton of points."