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Kobe Bryant(notes) had been struggling going in to Tuesday night's Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yeah, he'd been able to score, but it wasn't pretty. In his previous four games, he'd totalled 88 points. Not bad, but it took 89 shots to get there. A broken index finger on his shooting hand might have possibly had something to do with that.
Or maybe it was something as simple as needing some advice from the man who knows his game best — his dad. For the first time in five years, Kobe's dad Joe got to see a Laker playoff game in person. According to the Orange County Register's Janice Carr, he couldn't help but give his son some advice.
Before the game, the elder Bryant told Kobe to "Make a damn free throw."
So Kobe did what he was told. He hit 13 of 15 free throws in the Lakers' 95-92 victory against Oklahoma City in Game 2 of the first-round playoffs.
Joe Bryant also told Kobe not to worry about his offense; concentrate on defense "until the offense comes along." Kobe's defense wasn't spectacular Tuesday, but his shooting looked better than it had in weeks. [...]
"You miss shots, you make shots. Just play defense to keep yourself in a game," Joe Bryant said. "The offense is going to come back."
Good advice, dad. Kobe went off. 39 points on 12-28 shooting, plus a very papa-pleasing 13-15 from the free throw line to lead the Lakers to a win. Throw in two steals, and you can see why Joe Bryant has had coaching jobs that take him all over the world.
And those coaching jobs are the reason he's not courtside for every Lakers game. Whether it be Japan, Italy, or some other far-off locale, the elder Bryant's basketball seasons tend to overlap with the Lakers' playoff runs, leaving him unable to attend.
That's totally fine with him, however. He prefers watching from home "because I like to curse, I can eat popcorn in my teeth without cameras in my face, no reporters. I'm happy at home." Makes sense to me. Popcorn is delicious, but kind of messy.
As for Kobe, well, he likes having Dad around. Sure, the slump-breaking game is nice, but it's really more about feeling like a kid again. Kobe said he "felt like [he] was back in high school." For a grown man with a hurt finger, knee, and ankle that must be nice. Only question now is if Brandy wants to go to prom.
- Joe Bryant