Kobe Bryant listed as “probable,” likely to play Sunday vs. Suns

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Kobe Bryant isn’t the kind of player who wants to be on a maintenance program — reduced minutes and some nights off — but at age 36 coming off two major surgeries his body is telling him he needs one. After shooting 29 percent over five games and not having any lift in his legs, Byron Scott gave Kobe three games off in a row — including him sitting on Christmas Day vs. the Bulls. One nobody expected him to skip.

Apparently that’s enough. He should be back in the lineup come Sunday when the Lakers take on the Suns, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

We’ll see if Scott keeps Kobe’s minutes closer to 30 than the 35 he was playing.

The Lakers won their first game without Kobe against the Warriors before dropping their next two — they got crushed by the Bulls then lost a closer one to Dallas.

The Lakers are not better without Bryant, but they are less predictable on offense. And if you’re predictable you’re defendable. If Kobe is pounding the ball out on the wing or in the post in an isolation set — whether or not Scott drew it up as an iso play — the other team knows what is coming next. The Lakers offense has looked better when Kobe is doubled because he makes the right pass out of that and hits open teammates (and most of his teammates need to be open to shoot a high percentage). But if he’s single-covered and is hunting for his shot first, you can bet he’s not going to hit a crazy efficient percentage and you can keep everyone else in check.

We’ll see if and how that changes with a rested Kobe.