The days are rarely boring for the Lakers, even if their games are redefining the concept with their 2-9 record.
On Wednesday, for example, Coach Byron Scott said the Lakers needed Kobe Bryant because he made their offense “more settled.”
Few people would call Bryant’s play this season a calming influence, whether it’s his career-high 7.5 three-point attempts per game or his wildly inaccurate 33.6% shooting percentage overall.
But Scott said the 37-year-old created a more communicative flow on offense, his absence creating in-game chaos Monday in a 120-101 loss to Phoenix. Bryant sat out that game for rest after playing almost 36 minutes the previous night against Detroit.
“Having Kobe out there helps,” Scott said, laughing while remembering the 97-85 victory over the Pistons. “We were able to get the ball moving [against Detroit] and our biggest thing is trying to get three or four passes before we look for shots. We get the defense moving from side to side and then we can look to attack. And I don’t think we did a real good job of that against Phoenix.”
Bryant’s monopolization of the ball has led to legendary debates in the past about whether he’s a ball hog or not. Bryant, in such times, often reminded people his position was a shooting guard, emphasis on the shooting part.
He didn’t talk to reporters Wednesday and didn’t go through a full practice but was expected to return Friday against Toronto.
In the meantime, Bryant a calming influence?
“Absolutely,” Scott said. “He knows the offense extremely well, so he can tell guys where they need to be and how to get to it. It was a lot more settled, and it was obvious to me, watching the Detroit game and then watching us against Phoenix. When he was out there, the offense, it ran more smoothly.”
The other Nance
The Lakers saw a familiar face Wednesday, when former Suns rival Larry Nance sat in to watch his son, Larry Jr., practice with the Lakers.
The elder Nance, wearing a gold Lakers hat, said he got over his anti-Lakers feelings pretty quickly when the team drafted his son 27th overall in June.
“I had to give him grief, because when I played in Phoenix, the Lakers were the tough team that came through and beat the crap out of us all the time,” Nance said. “I’m proud of him, and I respect this organization.”
Nance Jr. wasn’t in the Lakers’ rotation initially but quickly carved out a role as the backup power forward, averaging five points and shooting 55.2%.
“He’s trying to get his niche and his niche is hard work right now,” Nance said. “I think as he begins to play, and feel comfortable, he’ll start doing more stuff. He can do so many things that nobody knows yet.”
Scott on McHale
The NBA news of the day was Coach Kevin McHale’s firing only 11 games into his fifth season with Houston.
“Yeah, I was a little surprised,” Scott said.
The two didn’t have a deep friendship and were rivals as players in the Lakers-Celtics showdowns in the 1980s.
“That’s all I know about him, is that he wore green and white,” Scott said.
The Rockets were 4-7 and held a players-only meeting Tuesday.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.