It’s almost unheard of for Kobe Bryant to ask out of a game to get a breather. But that’s precisely what happened in the fourth quarter last night during a critical 86-84 win against the Memphis Grizzlies — Bryant, exhausted from playing so many minutes of late (he’s played 137 minutes in the past three games) as the Los Angeles Lakers desperately cling on the 8th and final Playoff spot in the West, told Mike D’Antoni to give him a short rest. Per the LA Daily News: “It’s a little sore after games,’ Bryant said. ‘But during the games, I haven’t had to think about it.’ Instead, Bryant’s thought nothing except for winning. His 24-point performance on 10 of 23 shooting and nine assists played a large part in that. He played a two-man game with Pau Gasol that resulted in him 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting. Bryant opened the game posting nine points on 4 of 5 shooting. And by staying strict to his diet where he’s eaten since this offseason nothing but protein and vegetables, Bryant has kept his motor running. ‘It helps because it gives you an ability to recover quicker,’ Bryant said. ‘That’s really the big key. You need all the energy you can possibly get, the hydration, eating the right stuff. It all pays off.’ As a result, the Lakers (40-36) still have a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz (40-37) for the eighth playoff spot with six games remaining. ‘This is the big push for us. We have a very tough stretch, but we’re excited about it. When you’re going into the playoffs, you want to go in playing the best teams. There’s no point in being excited to get the first round and get your ass kicked. What’s the point? You want to go into the playoffs playing well and playing against some tough teams and top competition.’ [...] ‘I’d like to see him be a little less aggressive early on and be more aggressive later in the game,’ Pau Gasol said. ‘He needs his legs to be effective. And with the amount of minutes he’s playing lately, it’s normal that he’s tired at the end of games. He’s just playing a lot of minutes. I already said two games ago that I was concerned about it. But he’s the best at making plays down the stretch. that’s why he’s got the ball in his hands, and we count on those plays, especially in close games like this one.’”