The Lakers are about to make a lineup switch. But the reasons do not relate to Lakers coach Byron Scott feeling dissatisfied with the team’s starting lineup.
Lakers guard Wayne Ellington will start at shooting guard on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center, while Kobe Bryant rests to preserve his 36-year-old body on the second night of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, Lakers coach Byron Scott said he may start Ryan Kelly at small forward while Wesley Johnson stays out to receive an MRI on strained right hip flexor. That injury limited Johnson to 12 minutes in the Lakers’ 88-87 win on Sunday over the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center.
“I’m not going to speculate on how many games or how much time he’ll be out right now. But talking to our trainer, it didn’t look good,” said Scott, referring to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. “We just have to wait and see and hope for the best.”
Lakers forward Nick Young could be another candidate, but Scott has often said he would prefer to keep Young as a reserve because his playmaking and 14.7 points per game average significantly bolsters the second unit. Kelly went scoreless in 11 minutes in what marked his second game since nursing a six-week absence from a torn right hamstring. Scott said he played Kelly at small forward partly because of Johnson’s absence and because the 6’11” 230-pound Kelly has a size advantage over most players at that position.
“It’s new and different. I haven’t played the 3 in this offense. I have to pick my spots offensively,” Kelly said. “But I think I can hold my own defensively and that was something I worked on with my movement and lateral quickness. I’ll be ready for whatever we need.”
Meanwhile, Ellington started for three games nearly two weeks ago while Bryant sat out to rest his 36-year-old body. Ellington averaged 12 points on 45.2 percent shooting in 29 minutes as a starter.