From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Just when the Los Angeles Lakers thought their season was fully saturated with weirdness, Kobe Bryant made one shot and committed eight turnovers in one of the worst games of his career -- and the Lakers still beat Phoenix.Although the Lakers keep finding new ways to flummox their fans and themselves, they're also still finding ways to win.Dwight Howard had 19 points and 18 rebounds, Antawn Jamison added 19 points, and the Lakers survived Bryant's bizarre four-point performance for their eighth victory in 11 games, 91-85 over the Suns on Tuesday night.Even in this tumultuous season jam-packed with statistical oddities and high-profile failures, the Lakers' latest victory is a curiosity. Returning from a seven-game road trip, the Lakers hung on to win despite the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history, who had never played this many minutes (36) with just one field goal in his 17-season career.Bryant didn't attempt a shot in the first half and scored his first basket with 2:13 to play, finishing 1 for 8 in his lowest-scoring game since Jan. 13, 2005, when he left a game against Cleveland after six minutes with an injury.Yet after the win, he greeted his horrific statistics with a smile."I thought it was great, actually," Bryant said. "Obviously, scoring four points, going 1 for 8, that's not necessarily a recipe for success. ... But it's not about us as individuals. It's about what we can do to help the team."Bryant counteracted his nine assists -- just one in the second half -- with a raft of turnovers, yet the Lakers survived against one of the NBA's worst teams with big plays from Howard, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, who scored 17 points. Bryant finally got an 8-foot leaner to fall, keeping the Lakers in control."I guess every 17 years, he's allowed that," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I wouldn't be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights. He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You've got to walk the fine line, and he's way over the other line. ... Just write it off and get to the next one."Los Angeles returned from its longest road trip of the season with its fourth straight home win, but Bryant -- the NBA's third-leading scorer this season -- took his recent propensity for playmaking to an uncomfortable extreme, particularly in the first half. Although he blamed the Suns' double-teams, Kobe even passed up fairly decent looks to force passes to his teammates on a few occasions, voluntarily removing his shooting skills from the Lakers' offense."I've been doing that since January, when I was trying to make the right play, keep everybody involved, and then I try to get going a little bit," Bryant said. "But they took away my post-ups to see if the other guys could beat us, or maybe if I'd get frustrated or force things a little bit, but I just took the double-teams and just tried to make the right play."Along with Bryant's disappearing act, the Lakers won despite managing just nine points in the third quarter, their lowest-scoring period of the season. Bryant finally started shooting in the third quarter, but was just as inept as his teammates, missing all five of his attempts.The Lakers didn't make a basket in the third quarter after World Peace's 3-pointer with 8:58 left, and Phoenix took its first lead late in the period despite its own poor shooting while the Lakers missed 16 of their 19 shots and went 9:21 without a basket.Michael Beasley scored 18 points and Luis Scola had 15 for the Suns, who have lost eight of 10."We get so close, play so well in the third quarter and figure it out, and then we went away from it in the fourth quarter for some reason," said Jared Dudley, who scored 10 points.Jodie Meeks' layup reclaimed the lead with 8:40 to play, and the Lakers kept that small advantage down the stretch.The Lakers began their seven-game trip necessitated by the Grammy Awards with a 92-86 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 30, blowing a big second-half lead and losing Howard to the shoulder injury that still dogs him. The Suns were 1-5 since, including an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma City last Sunday."I wouldn't go that far to say that we held (Bryant) down, because he's a great player," Beasley said. "But we did what we wanted to do, as far as our assignments. We just didn't finish. It's a little frustrating. Our defense really hurt us tonight, except for the third quarter. In the first half and the fourth quarter, they got whatever they wanted on the weak side."NOTES:F Earl Clark scored 11 points, but sat in favor of Jamison down the stretch. Clark played the Lakers' entire road trip with pain in his right foot, with the Lakers attributing it to inflammation or tendinitis. Clark says the pain reminded him of a stress fracture from his college career at Louisville, but he intends to play through it. ... Will Ferrell and Shaquille O'Neal watched the game from courtside seats underneath the basket on the Lakers' end of the floor. During a third-quarter timeout, Ferrell donned the red blazer worn by Staples Center security personnel and stood on the court. Later, he jokingly escorted O'Neal off the court.
After beating the Texans on Sunday, 36-33, Tom Brady didn't want to delve too deeply into what went into his locking arms with teammates during the national anthem.
He didn't want to get into Donald Trump's comments about players kneeling for the anthem, but he was willing to go there during Monday's Kirk and Callahan Show on WEEI.
"Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said," Brady explained. "I thought it was just divisive. Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day.
"I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together -- guys you would never have the opportunity to be around. Whether it was in college, and all the way into the pros. We’re all different, we’re all unique. That is what makes us all special."
Brady was one of several players locking arms on the Patriots sideline for the anthem. More than a dozen others, including Devin McCourty, took a knee. Just before and immediately after the anthem, fans booed the demonstration.
"I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do," Brady said of the response. "If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about."
FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.
By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.
Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.
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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.
I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.
I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”
Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.
As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.
It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.
But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.
Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.
“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.
“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”
Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.
All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.
It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.
Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.
The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.
It’s complicated for them too.
But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.