The Jazz had little doubt that a fractured finger on his shooting hand would keep Kobe Bryant out of Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, which wound up to be a Utah win.
“He played with a torn ligament the whole year two years ago, so it’s nothing new to him,” point guard Deron Williams said beforehand.
“He’ll play. I’m sure he will,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan added after Utah’s morning shootaround. “That’s why he’s Kobe. You know, I’ve never heard him make excuses with injuries. He plays through all that stuff.”’
Sure enough, Bryant played – despite the finger, and an upset stomach that had him taking fluids via an IV line before the game and at halftime.
Asked afterward if he thought Bryant looked like his usual self after scoring just 16, Sloan said, “He shot 24 shots.
“I mean, I don’t know what his situation is. I can’t worry about that. … You play him as hard as you can, regardless of what’s wrong with him,” the Jazz coach added. “I don’t worry about that stuff. Michael Jordan was supposed to have the flu, and he scored about 40 against us – so I don’t buy into any of that stuff.”
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Sloan liked how rookie Wesley Matthews rebounded from Wednesday’s road loss to the Lakers and played Saturday against Bryant and L.A.
“He struggled a little bit out there. … But (Saturday night) he came back and fought back,” Sloan said. “That’s what you love to see.”
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He said it:
Jazz swingman Ronnie Brewer, and both he and Matthews making the Lakers pay for playing off them — something that didn’t happen when Bryant played off Brewer in last season’s playoffs:
“We just have to stay aggressive. In the playoffs, it was one pass and they were backing off. For us to be successful, we have to execute our offense. It’s getting the ball in to Booz (Carlos Boozer), getting it in for Memo (Okur), getting in to ‘Sap (Paul Millsap), us cutting to the basket or swinging it the other side and hitting the jump shot, or penetrating and kicking it. I think (Saturday) me and Wes Matthews benefitted from off that, moving the ball, making the extra pass, running our offense – because we got easy shots out of the offense that we were in rhythm with and shot the ball comfortably.”
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He tweeted it:
The Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding, from Saturday’s game: “Looked like (Lakers assistant coach) Brian Shaw got into it with a courtside Jazz fan a couple minutes ago, sniping back and forth a bit. No surprise in this venue.”