Lakers currently don’t have plans to shut Kobe Bryant down

Lakers star Kobe Bryant, left, who hasn’t played since a 114-89 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday, practiced Monday and could play Tuesday against the Miami Heat at Staples Center. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Lakers star Kobe Bryant, left, who hasn’t played since a 114-89 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday, practiced Monday and could play Tuesday against the Miami Heat at Staples Center. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Amid all the unanswered questions surrounding Kobe Bryant’s health or even if he will play in tonight’s game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center, the Lakers seem intent on one thing.

The Lakers currently have not discussed yet the possibility of sitting Bryant for the rest of the 2014-15 season.

“This is going to be game-by-game and will be that way until the end of the season,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said after Tuesday’s morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “If we ever decide to shut it down for the rest of the season, we haven’t gotten near that point at this particular point of time. We continue to go day-by-day.
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Lakers’ Nick Young seeks feedback from Byron Scott, Kobe Bryant on ending shooting struggles

"The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015.  (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)"

”The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

Never has Lakers forward Nick Young ever seen a shot he does not like. Never has he taken a shot he felt unsure would drop into the basket.

But with entering Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat (16-21) at Staples Center averaging 12.4 points on only 25 percent shooting in the past five games, Young spent part of Monday’s practice consulting with both Lakers coach Byron Scott and Kobe Bryant on how to overcome his recent struggles.

In what he described as a “big slump,” Scott repeated criticisms in recent days to Young about both expanding his game and showing a more serious approach during his shooting drills. Scott also emphasized “you don’t live and die on every shot.”

“I needed Coach to talk to me today. Everybody needs somebody sometime,” Young said. I feel all right and feel more confident. My teammates are talking to me.”

That mostly included Bryant, who did not speak to reporters after participating in the first 90 minutes of Monday’s two-hour practice. Bryant has experienced plenty of shooting slumps during his 19-year career. This season alone, he has averaged 23 points on a career-low 37.5 percent shooting.

“He’s teaching me ways to get open and hit teammates,” Young said. “If you pass the ball and they knock down a couple shots, they can’t double team you anymore.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant completes part of practice and could play vs. Miami

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks on from the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, December 26, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Bryant was sitting out his third straight game to rest his sore body but could be back in the lineup when the Lakers return home for their next outing. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks on from the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, December 26, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Bryant was sitting out his third straight game to rest his sore body but could be back in the lineup when the Lakers return home for their next outing. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

After sitting out for three of the past four games, Kobe Bryant seemed rested enough that he participated in 90 minutes of the Lakers’ two-hour practice on Monday that entailed light shooting and half-court drills.

“He looked more focused,” Lakers forward Nick Young said of Bryant.

But will that prove enough for Bryant to return when the Lakers (12-26) host the Miami Heat (16-21) at Staples Center? Lakers coach Byron Scott said he will “pencil” Bryant in, but will not make a final decision until he sees the how 36-year-old feels following both morning shootaround and shortly before tipoff.

After all, Scott has delivered a mea culpa for the past two days on how he handled Bryant’s minutes.

“You try to move away from it and forget about it,” Scott said. “But it’s hard to do when you have a guy you care about so much and you think you kind of messed up. I think I played him too much early.”

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Lakers, Kobe Bryant rank fourth overall in NBA jersey sales

"MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list with a free throw in the second quarter of the game on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)"

“MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list with a free throw in the second quarter of the game on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)”

Amid Kobe Bryant’s struggles fighting Father Time and the Lakers’ struggles in just collecting wins, there remains at least one source of good news.

Both the Lakers and Kobe Bryant rank fourth overall in NBA jersey sales, the league announced on Monday. The top spots went to Cleveland’s LeBron James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors finished ahead of the Lakers.

The Clippers finished 10th overall, the most notable jersey sales going to Blake Griffin (10th) and Chris Paul (12th).

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Byron Scott wants Nick Young to round out game to compensate for poor shooting

"Lakers Nick Young fouls PortlandÕs Wesley Matthews during second half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 11, 2015.  Portland defeated the Lakers 106-94. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) "

“Lakers Nick Young fouls PortlandÕs Wesley Matthews during second half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 11, 2015. Portland defeated the Lakers 106-94. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “

He stood tall and proud by his locker stall, Nick Young appearing in ecstasy after reliving a game-winning shot that made the Lakers’ gregarious forward boast proudly about his abilities.

“They call me ‘I.D.M.’ I don’t miss,” Young proclaimed after hitting a game-winner against San Antonio last month.

Young will not need to change the acronym. But he might need to change the meaning. The Lakers’ 106-94 loss on Sunday to the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center featured Young posting only nine points on 3-of-11 shooting, completing a 15-game stretch where he has shot a combined 59-of-173 from the field ever since changing his nickname.

“I have to stop thinking so much and play my game and go out there and have fun,” Young said. “My energy, no matter what, I have to keep my energy high and continue to play the way I’ve been playing.”

But Lakers coach Byron Scott wants something different.

As Young continues to struggle in entertaining the Lakers with high-volume scoring, Scott plans to stress to Young during Monday’s practice by using this time to round out the other parts of his game.

“He has to be able to do other things on the court,” Scott said. “When his shot is not falling, you have to rebound. You have to do other things to get yourself involved. Every shot he misses is the end of the world right now to him. You have to get away from that and keep playing hard and do other things to help the team to get better.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott concedes he mismanaged Kobe Bryant’s minutes

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)


Kobe Bryant will sit out tonight when the Lakers (12-25) host the Portland Trail Blazers (29-8) on Sunday at Staples Center, which will mark the third game he has missed in the past four games.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said the reasons strictly involve “general body soreness” and his hope to preserve his 36-year-old star. But Scott also conceded his conservative approach stems from initially mismanaging Bryant’s playing time.

“I’m just trying to make up for all the minutes I played him early to get him more rest,” Scott said. “It was overload. My number was higher and I played to my number. That had a lot to do with him being worn down a little bit.”

Scott initially played Bryant between 30 to 40 minutes per game and even exceeded that threshold. Scott justified the move because the Lakers went into overtime in two games and they also had a four-day window between games in another scenario. But Scott conceded he should have restricted Bryant to around 31-32 minutes per game and sitting him on one night of any-back-to-back. Scott also said that Bryant’s minute suggestion proved more conservative than his own, though Scott reported the Lakers’ star remained willing to take on the heavy workload. Bryant has averaged 23 points on a career-low 37.5 percent shooting.

So what prompted Scott still to play Bryant more than even the Lakers’ star suggested?

“I didn’t take into serious consideration of him missing almost a whole year and him just getting back playing,” Scott said, referring to Bryant playing only six games last season amid injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee. “I should’ve figured out that would have taken time. But watching his workouts and watching how great in shape he was in, I took a little too confidence expecting he could handle those kind of minutes. I was wrong.”

Scott has since scaled back Bryant’s workload. After sitting for three consecutive games last month, Bryant has taken more of a facilitating role in the next five games by averaging 17 points on 40.9 percent shooting and eight assists in 31.4 minutes per game. Scott plans to rest Bryant on one night of a back-to-back, and will choose the first or second game depending on how many days of rest remain before and after the back-to-back.

Would Scott ever shut Bryant down for the 2014-15 season to preserve him next season for what could be his last year?

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” Scott said. “Maybe after All-Star break, we’ll talk about something like that if necessary. But right now, that’s something we haven’t discussed.”

The Lakers resume play after the All-Star break on Feb. 20. Until then, Scott downplayed any concerns about Bryant’s health despite his recent absences.

“I’m not concerned about his health right now,” Scott said. “His body, it’s a basketball player who has played a lot of years. I have to be concerned about that. That’s why I’m taking precautionary measures as far as not allowing him to play so many games. I want him to be right not only for this season, but for the rest of next season as well.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott: Nick Young needs to put more work into ending shooting slump

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Wesley Johnson to start, Kobe Bryant’s status unclear

 L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant did not practice on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, after sitting out last night's 101-84 win against Orlando. Bryant's status is unclear for Sunday's game against Portland. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant did not practice on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, after sitting out last night’s 101-84 win against Orlando. Bryant’s status is unclear for Sunday’s game against Portland. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Lakers forward Wesley Johnson will retake his starting small forward spot in tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center after missing the previous three games because of a strained right hip flexor. But it still remains unclear if Kobe Bryant will suit up after missing two of the past three games to rest his 36-year-old body.

Lakers coach Byron Scott reported that Bryant has experienced “a little body soreness,” a similar situation that prompted Scott to sit him last month for three consecutive games.

“We gave him four or five days off and he came back and looked rejuvenated,” Scott said. “We’re still trying to be cautious with that.”
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Kobe Bryant and Wesley Johnson’s status unclear for Sunday

"The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant #24 reacts after fouling the Grizzlies’  Mike Conley #11 late in the 4th quarter during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015.  The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant #24 reacts after fouling the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley #11 late in the 4th quarter during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

Coming out of Saturday’s morning short practice, Kobe Bryant’s status for Sunday’s game against Portland was still unknown.

Bryant sat out Friday’s game against Orlando, which the Lakers won 101-84. Head coach Byron Scott tabbed the absence as “just rest” on Friday and would not state if the veteran would be playing Sunday until talking to his star player over the next 48 hours.

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Lakers’ Byron Scott: Nick Young needs to put more work into ending shooting slump

"The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015.  (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

The issues have become more pronounced with each shot that he attempts. It turns out that Lakers forward Nick Young has hardly lived up to his self-given nickname, “I.D.M.,” short for “I Don’t Miss.”

Instead, that has happened plenty of times. The Lakers’ 101-84 victory on Friday over the Orlando Magic at Staples Center featured Young posting nine points on only 2-of-13 shooting in 20 minutes. That marks a four-game stretch where Young has shot a combined 13-of-53 from the field. Young insisted that his recently sprained right knee that kept him out of Thursday’s practice feels “good.” But Young suggested he needed a different kind of medicine.

“I need some love. I need some good vibes to start shooting better,” Young told reporters. “I need ya’ll to hug me after this.”

But Lakers coach Byron Scott suggested that Scott needs something besides some encouragement. In fact, Scott provided some negative reinforcement.

“The one thing he should do is come in a little bit early and get shots up,” Scott said.

And has Young done that?

“I don’t know,” Scott said. “I haven’t seen that part. The extra work, I haven’t seen that part from him yet. Maybe this will help him.”
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Lakers’ Tarik Black enhances competition in 101-84 victory over Orlando Magic

The noise level reached deafening levels. His Lakers teammates appeared inspired by his unyielding work ethic. And when the Lakers needed a feel-good moment during an otherwise sour season, he provided it.

This man was not Kobe Bryant, whom Lakers coach Byron Scott sat for the fifth time this season to rest the Lakers’ 36-year-old star. The player was Tarik Black, a rookie center that wasted no time in his week providing a strong impression in the Lakers’ 101-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday at Staples Center. That entailed scoring 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting, a 6-of-7 mark from the foul line and nine rebounds in nearly 17 minutes. It provided a worthy encore after producing five points on 2-of-4 shooting and three rebounds in 12 minutes of the Lakers’ loss on Wednesday against the Clippers.

“God has blessed me so much to be put in this position and he’s taken so much control over this thing that I just go out here and give my all to them,” Black said. “At the end of the day, things come out profitable like it did tonight.”

Amid a depressing Lakers season that entails a 12-25 record, fourth worst in the NBA, something divine has emerged. After struggling nearly all season just to field a healthy roster, the Lakers suddenly have enough of a frontcourt that can make Lakers coach Byron Scott more selective with his playing time.

“I’ll Shuffle them in and out,” Scott said. “Whoever plays the hardest and the best plays. It’s pretty simple.”
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