Kobe Bryant takes the night off, but the Lakers still beat Orlando Magic, 101-84
Byron Scott saw it coming.
The Lakers were playing another lowly team, the Orlando Magic, on Friday night. But the Lakers coach emphasized to his players that of the Magic’s 13 wins coming into Staples Center, nine were on the road.
“We’ve got to be ready for that,” Scott said.
And so the Lakers were, defeating Orlando, 101-84, despite Kobe Bryant again sitting out to rest.
OK, it was a triumph over another last-place club. But for the Lakers (12-25) this season, a win is a win. For the Magic (13-26), it was the team’s fifth consecutive loss.
The Lakers used a balanced attack, with six players scoring in double figures, even though some of them struggled with their accuracy.
Jeremy Lin came off the bench and led with 18 points, and recently acquired Tarik Black shot four of four from the floor, scored 14 points and gathered nine rebounds.
Black didn’t even have his own nameplate on his locker Friday night — the plate there was a generic “Lakers” — but Scott praised him as a “big, strong, physical, athletic big man” and that “he just came in with a ton of energy. It really kind of elevated everybody else.”
And with Bryant sitting out, 6-foot-11 forward Ryan Kelly made only his second start of the season and made the most of it. He scored 13 points, including three three-point baskets. Ed Davis also started and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Indeed, the Lakers credited much of their win to their defense, with the Lakers pulling down 60 rebounds overall to 36 for Orlando.
“They made a couple of runs, but for the most part we had the game under control,” Davis said. “We got a much-needed win.”
Scott said his decision to sit Bryant had nothing to do with Bryant shooting two for 12 from the field while scoring only four points in the Lakers’ 114-89 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night.
“No, just rest,” Scott said.
“Talked to [Bryant] a little bit today, asked him how felt, he said he felt OK, I said, ‘OK, you’ll rest tonight,’” Scott said, adding that he wanted to hear “conviction that [Bryant] feels great and I didn’t feel that today.
“He didn’t fight me on it. He stuck to his word as far as allowing me to make that decision for him, and I just thought tonight would be another good night for him to rest.”
It was the fifth game Bryant has missed under Scott’s plans to give the 36-year-old more rest.
Bryant missed three consecutive games from Dec. 23-26 and also sat out Monday’s game against Portland. The Lakers are 2-3 in the games he has missed.
Nick Young, who has struggled with a sore right knee this week, struggled Friday night. He was two for 13 from the floor and missed all six of his three-point shot attempts.
Overall, the Lakers shot only 40% from the field. But this season, a win is a win.
Follow Jim Peltz on Twitter @PeltzLATimes
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