Byron Scott is finally affording Kobe Bryant some much-needed rest, and that strategy is paying off for team and player. As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers will continue utilizing it. After Kobe helped the Lakers to a close win over the Indiana Pacers with 20 points, six assists, and a crucial crunch-time basket, Scott said his superstar won’t play back-to-backs for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season.
The coach told reporters of his plan to manage Bryant’s body as he informed them that the Lakers legend will miss tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
From Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
He missed three games at the end of December, and now will sit out one game of each of the Lakers’ nine remaining back-to-backs.
“That’s basically what we’re going to stick to,” Scott said.
Los Angeles has eight sets of back-to-back remaining on its schedule, meaning Bryant will miss one game from each following pair:
January 15-16: Cleveland Cavaliers, at Utah Jazz
February 10-11: Denver Nuggets, at Portland Trail Blazers
March 3-4: at Charlotte Hornets, at Miami Heat
March 15-16: Atlanta Hawks, at Golden State Warriors
March 24-25: at Oklahoma City Thunder, at Minnesota Timberwolves
March 29-30: at Brooklyn Nets, at Philadelphia 76ers
April 7-8: at Los Angeles Clippers, at Denver Nuggets
April 12-13: Dallas Mavericks, at Sacramento Kings
This obviously isn’t what Bryant fans across the country want to hear. There will be thousands of disappointed members of Mamba Nation showing up to Lakers away games disappointed that their hero will be sidelined.
From a purely basketball perspective, though, Scott is clearly making the right choice. Kobe is averaging 17.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.0 assists since resting for three games in late December, and doing so on far better efficiency while notching only 32.3 minutes per contest. That’s a far more manageable amount of time for a player of Bryant’s age and mileage, especially considering his season-long shooting woes.
Why Scott is only realizing that now is anyone’s guess. It wasn’t long ago that he was adamant that Los Angeles wasn’t “relying” too much on the 36 year-old future Hall-of-Famer.
But that’s in the past now. Kobe is playing his best ball of the season, and the Lakers have been very competitive in the process. With this new plan of rest in place, perhaps both of those developments will continue as 2014-2015 wears on.
What do you think?
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.