They’re starting to stack up now, too many in a row to be called a fluke.
Kobe Bryant has stumbled in recent games, not showing much of anything positive since passing Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list. What he showed Sunday against the Sacramento Kings were a lot of shots, a lot of misses and a lot of turnovers.
Not surprisingly, the Lakers lost, 108-101, at the aptly named Sleep Train Arena. They were a bore to watch, throwing up a lot of one-on-one shots amid an offense in disarray.
It forced Lakers Coach Byron Scott to ponder the once unthinkable — resting Bryant for a game.
Equally imponderable: Bryant seems to be in agreement with it.
“There’s probably not much of an option … it might make sense,” he said quietly after making only eight of 30 shots (26.7%). He had 25 points and nine turnovers.
“It’s fatigue and then just general soreness, joint soreness, body soreness,” Bryant said.
If he needs rest, the quickest solution is sitting out Tuesday’s home game against Golden State. After that is the Christmas Day game at Chicago, followed the next day by a game at Dallas.
Imagine the NBA’s displeasure if Bryant is rested against the Bulls. With a national audience. On a holiday. Against former teammate Pau Gasol.
Despite acknowledging the sensibility of sitting out a game, Bryant also seemed to wrestle with it.
“I take a lot of pride in trying to play all 82, obviously,” he said. “People come and spend their hard-earned money and come to watch us play, hoping I’m out there. I try to take that into account every single night.”
Bryant has failed to hit 40% shooting for the sixth time in his last seven games for the Lakers (8-19).
Scott planned to sit down with him for a talk Monday. He would take Bryant’s protests, if there were any, “with a grain of salt,” he said.
Bryant didn’t envision feeling this fatigued at this point of the season. The Lakers aren’t quite a third of the way through their schedule. April 15 is a long ways away.
“I didn’t anticipate having to try to do so much, to be honest with you,” he said, adding a dry chuckle. “At this stage the body doesn’t respond as quickly.
“I understand what the workload is and what I have to do for us to be successful. Now it’s just trying to figure out a way to have my body respond to be able to do it.”
He’s 36 years old, in his 19th NBA season and shooting 37.2%, more than 8% below his career accuracy coming into this season.
In case he sat out, Nick Young had an idea.
“Just give me the ball,” he said. “I’m always down to carry the load.”
Young did a nice job of that Sunday, scoring 26 points on seven-for-14 accuracy. But only one other Lakers player beyond Bryant and Young scored in double figures (Ed Davis, 10 points).
“We just stopped running our offense. Started standing around. We just stopped playing, basically,” Scott said. “I would like to see us get in our offense better. Ball movement. People movement. It’s pretty simple.”
The Kings (12-15) were much more cohesive on offense, getting nice inside-out play from center DeMarcus Cousins (29 points) and guards Ben McLemore (23 points) and Darren Collison (19 points). Forward Rudy Gay added 24 points and six assists.
The best news for the Lakers might have come before the game.
They dodged some expected discipline from the NBA when Young was not suspended for a game. There was no further follow-up from the NBA after he was ejected for delivering a forearm to the throat of Oklahoma City center Steven Adams on Friday.
“I’m a nice guy, man,” Young said. “I’ve said before, Swaggy P doesn’t get fined.”
Actually, he does. He was hit with a one-game suspension last season and lost $10,000 in salary after striking Phoenix guard Goran Dragic in the head. Had he been suspended for Sunday’s game, he would have lost $45,400 in salary.
The Lakers privately thought Young would be sidelined Sunday because the league typically frowns upon intentional contact in the head and neck area.
Not that his presence prevented another loss, with the feeling there were many, many more to come.