After his open and very public pressuring of Dwight Howard to fight through injuries and play, which seemed to have worked despite Dwight’s objections, Kobe Bryant spent much of the day and night denying that he had indeed pressured his embattled teammate. No one believes it, but here’s Kobe backpedaling. Per Yahoo! Sports: “On his way out of the Garden, out of a humiliating 116-95 loss to the Boston Celtics, Bryant returned a clichéd question – ‘Are Dwight and you on the same page?’ – without a clichéd response. With a bemused face and a shrug, Bryant said: ‘What page is there to be on? Defend. Rebound…’ He shrugged again. ‘I mean, what else is on the page?’ [...] Nevertheless, Bryant reached out to Howard early on Thursday to diffuse the drama, he said. He fired off a text message to insist that a part of his interview with the great Boston sportswriter, Jackie MacMullan, had been misconstrued in the public eye. Bryant swore he wasn’t calling out Howard about sitting three straight games with a shoulder injury, that he wasn’t questioning his toughness. ‘Listen, I really think people ran in the wrong direction with those quotes,’ Bryant said. ‘And I think that put Dwight on the defense, put him a little on edge. But that wasn’t the intention, nor the purpose. I didn’t say anything earth-shattering. I didn’t say anything I haven’t been saying all year. Honestly, I didn’t take a run at him.’”