The Lakers will play their third game of a five game road trip on Tuesday when they take on the Miami Heat, who beat the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. This game will also kick off the team’s first back-to-back of the year as the team will play Orlando on Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see how the Lakers bounce back from their four-point defeat against the Knicks. Kobe Bryant had 18 points on 19 shots while going 2-10 from deep. Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell had a combined struggled, going a combined 6 of 19 from the field.
Bryant has recently indicated to Byron Scott that he wanted to play every night this season. This can be the start of a troublesome road for Scott and the Lakers. Bryant has played 42 games in the last two seasons. Exposing his body to further injury risk could lead to the final blow to the career of the man who has donned a Lakers’ jersey for the last 20 years. Performance also remains an issue for the veteran. Kobe has the most field goal attempts on the team with 78. He also has the 3rd lowest field goal percentage at 32.1%, that is ahead of only Ryan Kelly (31.6%) and Marcelo Huertas (30.8%).
Back in September, Byron said that he will do everything in his power to ensure that Kobe sticks to the game plan as far as minutes and back-to-backs. What is the gameplan? It appears that if Bryant was not meant to play back-to-backs, than this plan will be deviated from at the first opportunity.
This might not matter depending on Bryant’s mood and status come postgame Tuesday or around tip off time on Wednesday. It is hard to imagine Bryant telling Scott that he needs the day off to recuperate.
Scott will also have to figure out his rotations assuming Bryant is on reduced minutes or sits out entirely. He can continue to give Russell minutes in order to grow, but Scott has other options that will be used if he believes that they will give him more chance to win.
Anthony Brown could serve as a useful replacement at SF with the skills of a “3-D” player, one who specializes in perimeter shooting and defense. Brown might not even get a shot at the lineup for another 5-10 games like Larry Nance, Jr. did but the coaching staff is high on his potential. He also has to compete with Metta World Peace, who has commanded minutes in Byron Scott’s rotation.
Huertas has not played in two games and can serve as a backup point guard to Russell if Lou Williams or Nick Young gets the nod to start. It remains to be seen if he will play at all in the final games of the road trip.
Byron Scott will have some tough decisions to make regarding minutes and rotations, while also considering the “victory vs. development” theme that has taken over this Lakers season.