BOSTON (AP) -One sub-par performance can happen to anyone.
Another, perhaps just a fluke.
Could three be a trend?
Nah, not in the case of Kobe Bryant.
``I get those looks again, I'm foaming at the mouth,'' the Los Angeles star said Friday. ``I want those looks again. I would never be bashful, you know that.''
Bryant's remarks came in the wake of a horrendous - for him - shooting performance Thursday night, when he went 9-for-26 and scored 24 points in the Lakers' 98-88 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA finals.
Bryant shot nearly 51 percent (169-of-332) and averaged 31.9 points in the Lakers' previous 15 postseason games. The Celtics did a good job making him a perimeter player, but as he pointed out, there was no scarcity of open shots.
``They're not going to let me get to the paint from the top of the floor or from a wing screen,'' Bryant said. ``I'll be looking for my teammates in those situations. Other spots where I'm posting up or pin-downs, quick catch-and-shoots, things of that nature. That's what I'll be looking for.''
Bryant shot 15-for-46 and averaged 25 points in two regular-season games against Boston - both losses. So he's 24-for-72 (33.3 percent) with 74 points in three unsuccessful matchups with the Celtics.
``Hopefully it just means I'm due,'' he said regarding Sunday night's second game in the best-of-seven series.
Despite Bryant's shooting problems, the Lakers trailed by only four points after Sasha Vujacic's basket with 6:53 remaining Thursday night. But they made only one field goal after that.
Bryant, acknowledged to be NBA's best closer, shot 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Lakers were a woeful 5-for-20.
``The defense is there,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``He didn't get to the basket, he didn't get to the foul line. Foul shots are really important for scoring, and again, they eliminated a lot of his ability to get to the foul line. So there's some things they did very well.
``But as we all saw, there was a lot of shots there that just didn't go down for him that were in-and-out. So that's a matter of understanding his baskets, getting a touch on them and figuring it out.''
Bryant and his teammates spent plenty of time shooting the ball Friday.
``The shots didn't go in,'' Vujacic said. ``We had a bunch of in-and-outs.''
The solution?
``You just take extra shots in practice and just make them in Game 2,'' Vujacic replied. ``The baskets here are different than in any other arena. You've got to get used to it and make those in-and-outs. It's just different.''
Lamar Odom said Bryant's tough shooting night was part of the game.
``It happens,'' Odom said. ``You make some, you miss some. We can win with Kobe shooting bad, we're good enough to win ballgames no matter how bad he shoots. Of course, if he scores 55, if he scores 48, that helps.''
The Celtics realize Bryant could score 55, or 48, at any time.
``Kobe is a great player, so we're just going to show up again Sunday expecting him to be a great player,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ``If it was easy to stop him, he wouldn't be a great player. We expect him to be great.''
Said Kevin Garnett: ``I thought team-wise we did a real good job of communicating and setting up our wall, as we put it, in trying to control him. We're anticipating him being a lot more aggressive in Game 2.''
Ray Allen, the Celtics' primary defender on Bryant, said he believes his team was well-prepared for Bryant after having to deal with the likes of Atlanta's Joe Johnson, Cleveland's LeBron James and several Detroit standouts earlier in the playoffs.
``We definitely have learned a lot of lessons,'' Allen said. ``I think we'd just like to continue to make our men make tough shots.
``I hope he keeps missing.''
The Lakers need more than a better shooting performance from Bryant. Improved boardwork would certainly help. The Celtics won the rebounding battle 46-33 including 26-18 in the second half, when they outscored Los Angeles 52-37.
The Celtics had 12 second-chance points to only four for the Lakers.
``We like to get up and down, so we've got to make sure we rebound the ball,'' Bryant said. ``Rebound the ball, get a chance to get out a little bit. For us, it's just about pushing the basketball and getting into our offense early.
``We've got to put more bodies on them. I think the team we played against in Utah, they were extremely physical, similar to Boston, in terms of how they put their hands on you and shove you underneath the paint. We've got to go back to how we made those adjustments against Utah.''

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