Kobe Bryant might be shut down if Lakers are out of playoff contention

Kobe Bryant might be shut down if Lakers are out of playoff contention
Kobe Bryant had 12 points on three of 19 shooting in a loss to the Miami Heat, 78-75, on Tuesday at Staples Center. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers are 10 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, apparently a key indicator of when they might shut down Kobe Bryant.

“I’m pretty sure if we’re nowhere near playoff contention in March or something like that, then we might discuss that,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Wednesday. “But the plan right now is to continue to play.”

Bryant, 36, has sat out six of the last 12 games for rest reasons. He said he felt as creaky as the Tin Man after making only three of 19 shots Tuesday against Miami in his return from a two-game hiatus.

The Lakers (12-27) are already falling out of playoff contention with the NBA’s fourth-worst record. It makes sense to shelve Bryant if they want to keep its top-five protected pick in the draft.

Fan interest and ticket sales, however, will presumably slip if Bryant sits.

"I don't worry about that business [aspect]," Scott said. "I could care less about that, to be honest with you. That's something that's out of my control anyway. My main interest is him and this team."

As Bryant's accuracy has plummeted to 37.5%, his playing time has been limited to 32 minutes per game.

Bryant will play Thursday against Cleveland and stay home for the Lakers' road game Friday in Utah, part of the plan to rest him for a game in every back-to-back situation.

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan