With the bucket, Bryant eclipsed O’Neal’s mark of 28,596 points. His 28-point effort moved him into fourth place with 28,601 and counting. He now ranks behind only Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36, 928), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Despite the elite company, Bryant’s post-game comments reflected the frustration of a difficult start to the season for the Lakers.
The team is now 14-11 on the season, which doesn’t bode well for Bryant’s hopes of winning a sixth NBA title in 2012.
“We're just not playing good basketball right now,” said Bryant, who scored only four points in the second half of Monday’s loss. “Our margin for error is just not as big as some of the other teams. We have to play really, really good basketball in stretches of the game, minimize mistakes. It was a game we should have won, but our margin for error isn't that big.”
The Lakers have now lost seven of 12 and still have visits to Boston, New York and Toronto remaining on their six-game, 10-day road trip.
After Monday’s game, Bryant — the league’s leading scorer at 29.3 points per game — told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith of his burning desire to hoist another championship trophy in L.A.
“I just want No. 6, man,” Bryant said. “I’m not asking for too much, man. Just give me a sixth ring, damn it.”
But the Lakers, in their current form, might not be built to make another championship run. And with the March 15 trade deadline on the horizon, a roster shakeup may be in order.
And potential trade acquisitions, wondering whether playing alongside Kobe be worth losing a few shots per game need only read Hall of Famer Larry Bird’s comments on “The B.S. Report” with Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons.
Bird was asked what current player he would most like to have as a teammate.
“Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that ... well, of course he wouldn’t have been shooting as much as he does now ... but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he’s just, he’s just tough,” Bird said. “He’s just a tough cat.”
“But, if you want to have fun, like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mindset is to go into every practice, every game, to get better.”