Kobe Bryant struggled through one of the worst outings of his career on Tuesday night, when he missed 13 of 14 shots and scored only four points in a 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Coach Byron Scott gave Bryant the day off Wednesday when the rest of the team practiced, but said he has not considered reducing Bryant’s minutes or role on the floor.
“I have not considered that yet. It’s too early in the season,” said Scott, who doesn’t believe Bryant is fatigued. “I think he’s averaging about 30 minutes a game. He’s still getting plenty of rest. I don’t think so -- maybe [he] is, but in my opinion watching it, I don’t think so.”
Bryant is right at 30.5 minutes a night, averaging 15.2 points a game while shooting 31.1% from the field and 19.5% from three-point range.
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot,” said Scott. “In the last few days, he said he feels great. I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired, or his legs behind tired, I think it’s just a matter of his timing being a little off.”
The Lakers have started the season very slowly, with two wins in 14 games. giving the team the second-worst record in the NBA -- ahead of only the winless Philadelphia 76ers (0-15).
Scott is still trying to be patient, as he works to develop the team’s young players like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
He’s also trying to support Bryant through his 20th and likely final season. Balancing Bryant’s needs with that of the team’s many prospects is not an easy task, but one Scott is trusting Bryant to help figure out on the floor during games.
“Trying to find the right combination is probably the tricky part,” said Scott. “I’m letting [Bryant] try to find [that balance] for himself. He’s been doing this for a long time. I’m not so much worried about Kobe. I am concerned about his shooting percentage and his shot so far, but as far as knowing him the way I know him, and how long he’s played in this league, I’m not worried about him finding it.”
Scott said he’s still preaching patience, even if he himself finds that difficult. When he was hired by Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, both sides made it clear that the Lakers had a long road ahead.
“The one thing Jimmy and Mitch told me when I took the job, is that it’s going to take a few years. They said, ‘Are you OK with that?' I said, ‘Yeah, I am, are you guys OK with that?” recalled Scott, now in his second year coaching the team.
“We still understand that this is a process and it’s going to take time. We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team that we feel are going to be very good players but it’s not going to happen in a month. It’s going to take some time. It might take a year or two.”
In the meantime, Scott is not planning on changing his game plan with Bryant.
“I haven’t thought about reducing his role. His role is pretty defined for us right now, so [are] his minutes,” said Scott.
MORE ON LAKERS