Phil talks to Kobe about shooting

Updated: April 21, 2010, 1:49 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Phil Jackson's pregame media session before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday turned into somewhat of a State of the Kobe Address.

Bryant, whose 6-for-19 shooting line in Game 1 dropped his four-game shooting slump to 27-for-89 (30.3 percent) is being asked to either improve or change his game.

"If Kobe's going to play this style of basketball, he's got to adjust his game to match ours," Jackson said. "He can still play exactly the way he's playing right now, but he has to limit the amount of shots he takes. Obviously he can't shoot 30-something percent, he can't shoot that percentage and have us be successful. Either the proficiency has to increase or else he has to become a playmaker out of those things. But he can still draw attention, can still make the plays."

Jackson, who said he was "optimistic" by Bryant's "lively legs" in Game 1 after the 12-time All-Star sat out four of the Lakers final five regular-season games to rest various injuries, joked that he used "various means" including "emissaries" to deliver his message to Bryant.

"I think that he's well-aware of it," Jackson said. "He's a little befuddled by it, but coming to terms with this, he's looking for a break-out game. He hits a 3 the other night in a critical, clock-ending situation and the ball goes in. Great. Then he comes down and steps back for another 3 that doesn't go in. Those are the things where he's used to that moment that when he gets hot, he stays hot and he can ride consecutive scoring opportunities down the floor and that hasn't happened and that makes all the difference in the world for his game. So he's still searching to step into that moment when he gets hot and stays hot."

Jackson was more concerned with Bryant's patience with his teammates than with his shooting decisions.

"This is an issue," Jackson said. "He searches for his teammates to show direction or initiative and if they don't, he's going to step in the vacuum as quickly as a wink because if they're not active and directive and attacking and doing the things that he sees this offense has to do, then he's going to step in and carry the torch, so to speak."

Jackson thought the sporadic nature that Bryant has played recently -- Tuesday is just Bryant's fifth game played in the last three weeks -- have been the reason for his unsure shot.

"Right now it's getting out of rhythm," Jackson said. "He'll be back and he'll be back strong."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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