The concern made Kobe Bryant roll his eyes.
The Lakers’ 37-year-old star posted only 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting, five assists and four rebounds in the Lakers’ 102-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday at Staples Center. But the most glaring number involved his 37 minutes.
It marked the second consecutive game he played above last year’s season’s average of 34.5 minutes. It marked the second consecutive season Bryant became shrouded in controversy surrounding the minutes he played. So after lasting only 35 games last season before needing season-ending right shoulder surgery, what implications could Bryant’s heavier workload bring to his 37-year-old body?
“That’s the silliest question of the night,” Bryant said. “This is literally my second game where I played 35 minutes or more, so it’s premature to ask about it.”
The concern made Byron Scott raise his voice.
The Lakers’ coach had faulted himself last season for granting Bryant such a heavy workload. Scott even rested Bryant for eight of the next 16 games before his season ended in late January. Yet, Scott sounded more and more irritated when pressed on his contradictions on how he would manage Bryant.
“Look at what he’s averaging,” Scott said. “He’s still at the limit. When he gets over the limit, we’ll talk more about it. But right now, it’s still at the limit.”