LOS ANGELES — Byron Scott is trying to fall on the sword for Kobe Bryant missing games.
Kobe is going to be out Sunday night for the Lakers as they host the Trail Blazers, meaning Kobe will have been out three of the Lakers last four.
“Just my feeling I wanted to give him another day of rest,” Scott said.
Scott then admitted he wish he’d done that more early in the season. Kobe played heavy minutes — and carried a heavy offensive load — in the Lakers first 27 games of the season. You could see Kobe wear down physically, his lift was gone and his game suffered. Eventually Kobe asked for some time off to rest.
“I thought his workload was too much,” Scott said looking back at those first 27 games. “He had a (minutes) number, my number was higher but his number was right, you know, when I look back at it. We cut those numbers down and I think his efficiency has been so much better, in terms of how he’s been able to play.
“The beginning, us getting on the same page and me getting to know him, what he could take and what he could stand as a minutes standpoint on a night to night basis was something that I had to get used to. We both got a real good feel now and we just got to go from this point on. Overall, he’s proven he’s got a lot left in the tank.”
Scott said he got fooled by his eyes.
“I didn’t take into serious consideration him missing almost a whole year and now getting back and playing,” he said before his Lakers faced Portland. “I should have figured out that would take a little time. But watching his workouts and watching what great shape he was in I think I got a little too confident, expecting that he could handle those type of minutes. And like I said, I was wrong….
“You may think it’s not a lot — if it’s a minute or two or three minutes, it doesn’t make much of a difference — but in the long run it does.”
Part of the issue was that the Lakers offense early on was very Kobe-centric — he was the guy with the ball in his hands nearly every time down, being asked to score and create. Kobe will shoulder that load, but the Lakers have been more dangerous when he facilitates, which is part him and part the other guys on the team not standing around and watching.
From here on out Kobe will be a game time decision most nights and most likely will miss one end of back-to-backs, Scott said.
“I want him to be right not only for this season but next season as well.”
Next season could be Kobe’s farewell tour, and the pressures on him to place certain nights and more nights will only grow.