Coach advises Kobe Bryant to ‘get basketball off your mind’ for a day
Just another Monday for the Lakers — some stay-at-home time for a “really angry” Kobe Bryant, plenty of probing questions for D’Angelo Russell about the point guard drafted after him in the top 10, and a broken nose in practice for Larry Nance Jr.
The Lakers are 0-3 this season, already pinwheeling their arms despite playing some of the Western Conference’s weaker teams.
If this is old age catching up to Bryant, he’s not thrilled about it. His stats already reflect another drop-off in productivity.
Bryant made only three of 15 shots in a 103-93 loss Sunday to Dallas and dejectedly called himself the NBA’s 200th-best player, unable to shoot better than 31.4% and missing 23 of 29 three-point shots through three games.
He didn’t come to the Lakers’ facility Monday after talking with Coach Byron Scott on the phone.
“I know he’s frustrated,” Scott said. “I think he really feels that it’s his fault, that he’s not playing the way he’s capable of playing. And he’s going to play that way [eventually]. He’s going to get to that Kobe we know.”
Bryant, 37, was “really angry” with his play so far, Scott said, adding that he told Bryant to spend time with his wife and two daughters Monday.
“Get basketball off your mind for 24 hours if you can,” Scott said.
There are no plans to rest Bryant in games, though it could come soon with the Lakers’ first back-to-back set next week. No one really thought he’d play all 82 games, but the Lakers hoped for something more than the 35 he logged last season before sustaining a torn rotator cuff.
“If we can get into the 60s, I think that would be great,” Scott said, setting an official usage expectation for perhaps Bryant’s final season.
Meanwhile, Russell is shooting 36.7% as the Lakers’ starting point guard and has five assists in three games. He was drafted second overall, five spots above Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay, who is averaging 5.3 assists per game and will match up against Russell on Tuesday at Staples Center.
Mudiay is shooting only 33.3% and has an atrocious turnover rate of 6.3 a game but is progressing faster then Russell, using a very small sample size.
“I thought he’s been playing well. He’s just controlling the offense, competing,” Russell said.
The Lakers worked out Mudiay before the June draft and liked his athleticism, but he didn’t shoot well and carried another question mark.
“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said. “But he had a little edge about himself. We thought he was going to be pretty good.”
Not a true point guard?
“I didn’t think he was a guy that made great decisions when we had him here. I thought it was something that he was going to have to kind of learn to do to run that position,” Scott said.
So the Lakers took Russell and stood behind him, hoping he could eventually make an impact worthy of the second overall spot.
Scott told him Monday to alter his routine by including more time for relaxation. Russell stays for extra work after morning shoot-arounds on game days and then seemingly spends a lot of energy during personal workouts the last two hours before tipoff.
“I tend to work a little too hard, always on my feet, just trying to stay on the court,” Russell said.
The Lakers’ other first-round pick sustained a broken nose after being accidentally hit by Julius Randle at Monday’s practice.
Nance, selected No. 27 overall, has not been activated for any games yet. The Lakers were not immediately certain when he would return.
LAKERS VS. DENVER NUGGETS
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. PDT.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 0-3; Nuggets 1-2.
Record vs. Nuggets (2014-15): 1-3.
Update: The Nuggets crushed Houston on opening night, 105-85, then experienced one-sided losses to Minnesota and Oklahoma City. Small forward Danilo Gallinari is averaging a team-high 16 points a game but shooting only 34.1%. The Lakers have lost four consecutive home games to the Nuggets.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.