Kobe Bryant Says First Game ‘Not as Bad as I Thought’

After giving himself a failing grade for his debut performance of the season on Sunday night, Kobe Bryant took a closer look at the tape, and declared that he had been a little too harsh on himself. Per the AP: “It’s the uncertainty of knowing how it’s going to take,’ Bryant said after a light workout Monday at the Lakers’ training complex. ‘In between timeouts, in between quarters, halftime, how is it going to feel? Is it going to stiffen? There’s always that uncertainty.’ It just takes time, and Bryant will go back to work Tuesday night against Phoenix in his second game back from a torn Achilles tendon. Although he couldn’t immediately step into his customary role as the Lakers’ dominant player, coach Mike D’Antoni realizes the Lakers’ fortunes are tied to the five-time NBA champion guard, particularly in a transitional season for the long-dominant team. ‘We know, and everybody knows, he’s got to be the closer,’ D’Antoni said. ‘And as soon as we can get him there, the more times he’s in that position, he’ll get closer to doing it.’ Bryant had nine points on 2-for-9 shooting with eight rebounds and eight turnovers over 28 minutes in his season debut Sunday night, unable to spark a comeback in the Lakers’ 106-94 loss to the trade-depleted Raptors. Bryant ripped himself after the loss, saying he had no rhythm with his teammates and awarding himself a letter grade of ‘F.’ After watching film until 2 a.m. following the game, Bryant corrected that grade to a ‘D.’ … ‘It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was,’ Bryant said. ‘The turnovers and things like that, a lot of it was just missed timing. We made some pretty good reads, got my guys some pretty good looks. In terms of the floor game, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.’ The Lakers reacted to Bryant’s return with a mix of excitement and discombobulation, particularly from the newcomers who had never suited up with the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history. Nick Young and Xavier Henry both called it a dream come true, but both scorers also acknowledged deferring to Bryant all night. D’Antoni repeatedly said the Lakers were ‘disrupted’ by Bryant’s return, and while the coach meant it pragmatically, the negative connotation will linger until the Lakers adapt.”