On Tuesday evening, in a tough loss to the Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant missed 16 of 19 shots from the field. The shooting performance wasn’t typical of his recent play – Kobe hasn’t usually been this bad – but it is sadly reflective of the sub-Kobester stats he’s put up since the Lakers started resting their 36-year old star more often.
Asked yet again about how he plans to handle the health and minutes of his legendary player and former teammate, Lakers coach Byron Scott revealed on Wednesday that he plays to play Bryant against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Thursday, while resting him against the lottery-bound Utah Jazz on Friday.
He also offered this:
Chances of Kobe shut down this season? Byron: "If we're nowhere near playoff contention in March...then we might discuss that."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 14, 2015
The Lakers are 12-27, and they’re about to take on a very angry Cleveland Cavaliers team that is looking for a statement win (or any win, really). The team is currently on pace to win 26 games, about what many expected from the team this year, in what we have no issues calling The Greatest Conference Ever.
Currently, the final spot in the Western postseason bracket belongs to the Phoenix Suns, who are on pace for 47 wins after a relatively rough start to the season and prior to acclimating the (expertly fitting) Brandan Wright into the rotation. The Oklahoma City Thunder, stuck at 10th in the West, haven’t even gotten their act together. The Western Conference playoff bracket is the hardest nut to try to crack that we’ve seen in our far too many years of following these things.
If the Lakers were to top Phoenix at its current pace, they’d have to peel off 36-7 end to their season. After starting the year on a 12-27 tear. Even getting within sniffing difference, around the same .500’ish mark the Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are working in, would take a 29-14 run. That’s just not happening.
Byron Scott, like Jeanie Buss and just about any other member of the Laker organization, has to keep a brave face and say things that he probably doesn’t mean while slogging through a lost year.
Still, the difference with Byron Scott is that you sort of get the feeling he actually means what he says, and that’s a bit troubling.
We’ll have more on the Lakers’ second-half outlook on Thursday.
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