Looking hesitant, slow and rusty overall in his return to action after 8 months off, Kobe Bryant gave himself a harsh, failing grade after his first game back. Per the LA Daily News: “He didn’t score. Bryant mostly passed. He still played in the fourth quarter, but failed to close it. And after finishing with nine points on 2 of 9 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists and eight turnovers, Bryant graded his performance woefully short of the career-high 81 points he unleashed against the same team 7 1/2 years ago. ‘It’s an F,’ Bryant said. ‘For me, it’s an F.’ [...] ‘This is a complete failure to me,’ Bryant said. ‘I can run around for 28 minutes. But basketball wise it was a complete failure.’ [...] ‘It takes time. You have to get the game legs back and make proper reads,’ Bryant said. ‘The biggest thing for me is putting guys in a position to be successful. Then I can be a threat myself and be able to execute it if the defense gives me a shot. If I don’t, then I have to kick it to somebody else and knock down the shot.’ In this game, though, Bryant’s weaknesses didn’t entail just scrutinizing his shot selection. ‘The biggest thing is being responsible with the basketball,’ Bryant said. ‘When the ball is in your hands, you have to take care of it and make the right decisions and the smart play.’ Meanwhile, the Lakers are pleading patience with Bryant’s acclimation. They’re also arguing Bryant’s fourth-quarter rustiness didn’t offset the momentum that the Lakers’ bench built. ‘You have to trust the coach,’ Xavier Henry said. ‘I work hard and am aggressive and have faith it will pay off. I’m not the coach. He makes those decisions and he has reasons for everything.’ His reasons? ‘I wanted to live a little bit,’ D’Antoni joked. ‘We got to get through this. You lose the skirmish anyway, but the battle is bigger. We’re going to ride Kobe. We might as well get it over with. One game is not going to kill us. But we have to get him back as soon as we can.’ [...] ‘It was really weird. I think the last time I had eight months off, I was still in the womb. So it felt good to get out there,’ Bryant said. ‘The accomplishment is in the work. It was really hard every single day to get to this point. That part I’m very proud of, especially being in the league so many years. You have to find the motivation every single day to do the rehab. From that stand point, I’m very proud.’”