Lakers’ Kobe Bryant looks for a pass around Raptors’ Landry Fields during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, December 8, 2013. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )
Before Kobe Bryant can become the Lakers’ savior it appears some short-term growing pains will have to place.
Such as resorting back toward figuring out the team’s identity nearly a 1/4 into the season.
The Lakers (10-10) will field what will be their ninth different starting lineup combination when they host the Phoenix Suns (11-9) tonight at Staples Center, which will include Steve Blake (point guard), Jodie Meeks (shooting guard), Kobe Bryant (small forward), Shawne Williams (power forward) and Pau Gasol (center).
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni believes Williams’ presence, in particular, will come in handy to defend Suns forward Channing Frye, who has averaged 10.4 points on 46.5 percent shooting and a 39.3 percent mark from 3-point range. Bryant will also play defense at the small forward position.
“The reasoning would be is we need to get more speed in there,” D’Antoni said. “Until Kobe gets his legs and everything else, we need to spread the floor and make it easier on everybody and get some legs.”
The move also ends Robert Sacre’s two-game stint as the Lakers’ starting center where provided a mixed bag in a win against Sacramento (11 points on 5 of 7 shooting, five rebounds and two blocks) and a loss to Toronto (two points on 1 of 3 shooting, one rebound). D’Antoni said both Sacre and Lakers forward Jordan Hill will compete for minutes in the frontcourt.
“It’s going to be tougher,” D’Antoni said. “Some guys will have to sacrifice a little bit. We’ll go game to game and figure out the minutes and see how we are. We’re back to square one with the best combinations with Kobe in the lineup, what works and who plays better. IT’ll take a few games to sort that out. In the meantime, we need to win and we need to play hard. If we do that, it’ll take acre of itself.”