The moments usually elicit nostalgia for Byron Scott as he watches Kobe Bryant days before his basketball mortality becomes official.
Scott has felt like a proud father as he watches the tribute videos Bryant has received in most road games. Scott has gushed over any instant Bryant shows flashes of his former self. Scott has expressed appreciation for Bryant to grind through his 20th and last NBA season even when it requires endless maintenance on his 37-year-old body.
Yet, something bothered Scott about Bryant’s presence in the Lakers’ 103-81 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game on Tuesday at Staples Center. It had very little to do with Bryant’s six-point effort on 2-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes. It had everything to do with his teammates around him as the Lakers tied last season’s record for the worst record in franchise history.
“It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we’re playing as a team,” Scott said. “That bothers me, because you’re talking about a champion. That bothers me, because he is a champion. And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately this is the way it’s going to be. It bothers the hell out of me that somebody who’s given 20 years to this league and has played through broken fingers, comes back from the Achilles, comes back from the shoulder surgery, and he still goes out there and gives it everything he has, that bothers me.”
Scott did not see that from most of his other players.
As much as the Lakers’ long-term future cements on their young players, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle shot a combined 8-of-36 from the field. Clippers guard Chris Paul had his way with Russell by posting 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, eight assists and two steals. The Lakers also allowed the Clippers to open the game with a 20-2 run.
Meanwhile, Lakers 36-year-old forward Metta World Peace posted a team-leading 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. He had not led the Lakers in scoring since Jan. 2013.
“It’s a shame that Metta and Kobe, guys up in age like that, come out and play that hard. Our young guys aren’t realizing they have to play that way as well to be successful in this league,” Scott said. “I would love our guys to play like Metta. When he goes out there, he gives everything he has on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end.”