Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scott plans to ease Kobe's workload


Byron Scott knows that Kobe Bryant can't play as many minutes as he's been playing and that Bryant can't handle the offensive workload he's been trying to handle.
Byron Scott knows that Kobe Bryant can't play as many minutes as he's been playing and that Bryant can't handle...

But Scott, the Los Angeles Lakers head coach, has not come up with a firm plan of how to rein in his 36-year-old shooting guard, who routinely talks about feeling more and more fatigued yet continues to push himself as if he's at least a decade younger.

"You know him," Scott said after practice at the Lakers' facility on Monday, which Bryant sat out to rest. "It's real difficult. He's such a competitor. He wants to go out there and play every minute that he can. The mind is willing, but sometimes the body is not."

Bryant had one of his worst performances of the season Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings, finishing with more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (eight). He scored 25 points, but it took 30 shots, and the Lakers lost 108-101.

Scott told reporters after that game he is considering holding Bryant out of games to rest, and Bryant didn't seem to argue too much, saying, "There's probably not much of an option ... it might make sense."

Scott wouldn't say whether Bryant would sit out any games this week, including Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors (22-3) at Staples Center.

"We'll formulate a plan that suits him so when he is on the court, he can go out and play at full strength instead of trying to will his way through these games," Scott said. "He's such a competitor that he tries to will his way through it no matter how his body feels. I want him to get to the point where his body feels a lot better than it does right now."

Bryant is in his 19th season, not far removed from two major injuries (knee and Achilles), but he's still averaging a team-high 35.4 minutes. He's averaging an NBA-high 22.4 shots per game and has been off target at an alarming rate.

As @SportsCenter tweeted Monday, Bryant has missed 380 filed goals this season, which is two fewer than Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki has even attempted.

Through 27 games, the Lakers' net rating -- the difference between offensive and defensive rating - with Bryant on the court is minus-13.3 points per 100 possessions. When he's on the bench, it's a whole different story: The Lakers' net rating is plus-11.1 points per 100 possessions.

The Lakers own a 109.4 offensive rating without Bryant, which, if maintained, would be fourth in the league (behind only Dallas, the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers). The Lakers' defensive rating of 98.3 without Kobe would be third in the league if maintained (behind only Golden State and the Houston Rockets).

There's a strong chance Bryant will fight whatever restriction Scott imposes -- and Scott said he might have to force Bryant to sit out even if Bryant doesn't want to.

But Scott said other factors are at play.

"I'm not going to sacrifice his well being for W's," Scott said. "I have to look out for Kobe to make sure I make it through this season without killing him and playing him too much. There might be some decisions I make that he won't be real happy with. I'll have to live with that. But for me, it's always going to be my players' best interest."

Bryant said Sunday he knows fans buy tickets to watch him, and Scott agreed that factors into it.

"At home, it impacts my decision because he knows how he wants to play in front of the fans," Scott said. "I know how much the fans would love to see him. That's definitely something we have to take into consideration. On the road, it's a totally different story."

It's highly likely Bryant will start missing the second game of back-to-back sets, including the Lakers' game Friday in Dallas against the Mavericks.

In terms of lowering Bryant's workload and finding an offensive balance, Scott said that responsibility falls equally on Bryant and his teammates.

"He thinks his teammates are not getting it done," Scott said. "I told him, 'I think, at times, you have to let them fail, just like you're going to let them succeed. You have to give them a chance and see what happens.' He has to understand. We talk after games where he apologizes, but his will and desire to win is so great that he forgets about everything else on that basketball court."