LOS ANGELES – Trying to turn a negative into a positive, as if he has another choice, Lakers coach Mike Brown said the shin injury that has cost Kobe Bryant six games and counting is beneficial because it gets Bryant much-needed rest in a season with an unusually heavy work load.
What Brown did not say is that he is the reason Bryant needs the rest – only Luol Deng and Kevin Love were averaging more minutes per game than the superstar shooting guard. Bryant never should have been at 38.4 an outing in the first place and especially not in a season with a condensed schedule that allowed less time for rest than usual.
So of course Bryant can use the breather.
“I agree,” Brown said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been alluding to the whole time is that at this point in the season, especially with the minutes that we’ve played him and the various injuries he’s had, it’s a great time for him to take a little bit of time before going into hopefully a long playoff run.
“We’re taking our time with it. We want to make sure it’s right. He’s made progress. I see the progress he’s made, and we’re happy about the progress that he has made. It’s just a matter of us wanting to be cautious about it and make sure that he’s back at full strength when he does come back and he doesn’t go into the playoff with any nicks and bruises, if possible.”
Bryant is not expected to play Wednesday night at Golden State, Brown said. Only three games remain in the regular season after that — Friday at San Antonio, Sunday against Oklahoma City at Staples Center and next Thursday at Sacramento — for Bryant to use to regain lost rhythm. Whether that is enough time to get him at 100 percent for the start of the playoffs soon becomes the central issue.
“It’s just a guessing game,” Brown said. “We can say it’s three (games), we can say it’s zero, we can say it’s one. It’d be a guessing game. I don’t think there’s an exact science to it. But the one thing you do know about Kobe is he’s been around this thing a long time and is extremely intelligent and he can seamlessly fit in with any group of guys, in my opinion.”
The Lakers are 4-2 during the absence, including the 112-91 loss to the Spurs on Tuesday.