By Mark Medina and Evan Barnes
Lakers coach Byron Scott will adopt another approach to conserve Kobe Bryant without significantly taking away his presence from the team.
When the Lakers (3-12) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-10) on Friday at Staples Center, expect Bryant to sit out toward the end of the first and third quarters so that he remains fresh in the fourth quarter. Bryant’s 35 minutes in the Lakers’ 99-93 loss on Wednesday to Memphis mirrored his season average. But Bryant sat out the final 1:47 of the first quarter and the last 1:30 of the third quarter after spending most games playing those periods in their entirety.
“The last game I thought he was fresher so again I’ll stick with what we did the last game,” Scott said after morning shootaround on Friday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “He feels good physically. I want to get to a point where he says he feels great physically.”
That’s why Bryant sat out all of the Lakers’ three practices this week on Monday, Tuesday and Thanksgiving Day. Bryant also missed morning shootarounds both on Wednesday and Friday. Scott said Bryant will typically just take “a few shots but nothing taxing.”
This all reflects the Lakers’ ongoing quest to handle the 36-year-old Bryant with care after playing in only six games last season with injuries to his left Achilles and left knee. Although Bryant has averaged a league-leading 26.7 points per game, he has shot a career-low 37.9 percent from the field.