Coach

Kobe Bryant Feels Solid, Still Intent on Retiring

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to victory on Tuesday and then explained that he had finally regained his timing and felt physically strong

Against the Milwaukee Bucks, Kobe Bryant looked like an All-Star.

Bryant entered Tuesday's game shooting 47 percent from the field over his previous four games. Against the Bucks, he shot 47 percent to keep his hot hand steaming. Apparently, the 37-year-old, who had been playing basketball for about three decades of his life, suddenly remembered how to shoot the ball and make plays.

"Kobe is Kobe," Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who played against Bryant for 17 seasons, said after the Lakers won 113-95.

"We talked about that today, that he is one of the best to ever play this game," Kidd added. "And if you give him an opportunity, he'll embarrass you, and that's what he did tonight."

Bryant's 22 points on 15 shots came easy, and he put his team up by 22 points twice in the third quarter before exiting the game with a 20-point cushion. Funny enough, both times the Lakers touched their season high 22-point lead, Bryant provided the pass: once to D'Angelo Russell and once to Robert Sacre.

Six assists provided glimpses into the Picasso of a passer Bryant could have been if he had not set his heart on scoring from a young age. Everything considered, the NBA is a scorer's league, and Bryant made the right choice.

So, can Bryant explain why he looked so awful early in the season?

"My legs feel much better," the seasoned professional calmly explained the difference between the first 15-20 games versus the past five to 10 games. "I feel in a better rhythm. My legs kind of caught up."

Bryant missed plenty of open shots prior to this five-game stretch. For the month of November, the 19-year veteran shot a dismal 29 percent from the field and an incomprehensible 20 percent from beyond the thee-point line. Also, he started missing games with a back problem, and suddenly, this season appeared like it could go south in a hurry.

Asked about the time he talked about struggling to walk to the car after a game earlier in the season, Bryant explained that he simply did not have those issues any more: "I can''t really explain it, but I haven't had that feeling for a while now."

So, Bryant drank from the fountain of youth, apparently. His body doesn't ache and he looks fresher than an apple in an orchard. Whatever he's doing, it's working, and as long as it's working, the Lakers should be fun to watch.

"It's a combination of everything," Bryant shared his secret. "It's not like doing something in the moment in time, but I think it's over a period and being consistent, being consistent with stretching, being consistent with hydration, nutrition, and the ice baths, and therapy and things like that. The combination of all those things over a period of time gets your body in a very solid place, which is where I'm at right now."

Bryant added, "Hopefully, I can stay there."

But this uptick in play should not distract from the fact that this is Bryant's final season. Asked if a night like Tuesday made him think about playing past this season even in the slightest bit, Bryant rushed to say, "No."

After a short pause, Bryant convincingly reiterated, "Honestly, no."

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