First up for ‘point guard’ Kobe Bryant? All-Star Russell Westbrook


Kobe Bryant is expected to be the Lakers’ new starting point guard.

As he worked his way back from the Achilles’ injury, he’ll jump right into the fire Friday night, matching up against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers announced Thursday that Steve Blake is out with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Jordan Farmar is still grounded with a torn hamstring. Steve Nash is trying to work his way through back issues after playing just six games this season.


Westbrook is averaging 21.2 points and 6.4 assists a game. He missed three games at the start of the season after knee surgery, but hasn’t lost much, if any, of his athleticism.

Bryant has made just two appearances this season, starting on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors at shooting guard and Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns at small forward.

Now he will start at his third position in three tries.

“Unfortunately, yes,” said Bryant after practice Thursday on his new role, “But we have some guys who will bring the ball up, and just get us into some stuff to save my legs a little bit.”

Asking Bryant to guard Westbrook is nothing new. That’s been a common strategy for the Lakers over the years -- but is Bryant up to that challenge this soon into his return?

Maybe not, but the Lakers don’t exactly have a lot of options -- given they don’t have a single, healthy true point guard.


Kobe Bryant is incrementally improving

Lakers dip to 12th place in Western Conference

Bad timing for struggling Lakers with busy trip ahead

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.