Kobe Bryant is fatigued. He admitted as much after a 3-of-15 shooting performance against the Thunder Friday night.
“Yea, didn’t have my legs,” Kobe said when asked if he was physically fatigued Friday. “It’s pretty frustrating. Got to figure it out.”
He hadn’t figured it out by Sunday, when Kobe was 8-of-30 shooting for 25 points in the Lakers loss to the Kings. Kobe is now 11-of-45 (24.4 percent) shooting over his last two games and 33-of-113 (29.2 percent) in his last five games. He’s clearly exhausted, you can see it in his lift on shots. With that coach Byron Scott is thinking of giving him the night off soon, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.
Scott, whose Lakers fell to 8-19 and who begin a three-games-in-four-nights stretch against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, said he’ll meet with Bryant on Monday to discuss the matter.
“When I get on the plane and get home, (he will) think about it a little more and then go from there,” Scott said…. “The biggest thing is I’ve got to take the basketball part out of it, to be honest with you. Because I think at times he does look exhausted, and I know he’s trying to do so much, so like I said I’ve got to talk to him and I’m going to take what he says with a grain of salt. … I know him, and I know he wants to play, but I’ve got to think about him as well. Maybe it is a game or two (that he rests). I don’t know yet.”
He knows. Kobe at age 36 and coming off two major surgeries has played 957 minutes this season (10th highest in the league), is averaging 35.4 minutes per game (15th highest in the league) and he has a usage rate of 36.4 percent (he uses that percentage of possessions when on the court), which is the highest in the league. Nobody is carrying the load he is on a team.
And it shows.
But for Byron Scott to tell Kobe to sit implies Scott has the power in this relationship. He does not. It’s all Kobe. There hasn’t been a Lakers’ coach since Phil Jackson who could actually tell Kobe what to do and he’d follow through whether he wanted to or not.
Case in point: after going 3-of-14 against the Thunder Friday, the Lakers had a chance for a game-winning shot — and Scott drew up an isolation play for Bryant. Scott said after the game Kobe’s history — “he’s got 32,000 points” — was the reason, and that may have played into it. But the fact is if Kobe wants the ball on this team he gets the ball. And with this Lakers roster he doesn’t trust anyone but himself to really take charge.
Scott’s plan up to this point was to rest Kobe in practices and play him big minutes in games. But Kobe practiced last week, going hard in a scrimmage, and around that he continues to look fatigued on the court, with those tired legs betraying his jump shot.
“It’s a balancing act, just figuring out when to do it (practice hard to push teammates) and when not,” Bryant said of the idea of skipping practice and getting rest after Friday’s game. “We’re just trying to figure out proper rest and that stuff.”
Maybe after Sunday he’ll be open to missing a game or two. Maybe. But it will be his call.
And you can bet if Kobe does miss a game it will not be Thursday’s nationally televised game against the Bulls. Not on Christmas day.