June 17, 2021

Kobe Bryant practices, could face Miami Heat on Tuesday

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error After sitting out three of the past four games, Kobe Bryant seemed rested enough that he participated in 90 minutes of the Lakers’ two-hour practice Monday that entailed light shooting and half-court drills.Bryant did not speak to reporters afterward, but Lakers coach Byron Scott reported Bryant said he “feels a whole lot better.” But will that prove enough for Bryant to return when the Lakers (12-26) host the Miami Heat (16-21) on Tuesday at Staples Center?Scott said he will “pencil” Bryant in, but will not make a final decision until he sees how the 36-year-old star feels following morning shootaround and shortly before tipoff.After all, Scott has delivered a mea culpa for the past two days on how he has handled Bryant’s minutes. “You try to move away from it and forget about it,” Scott said. “But it’s hard to do when you have a guy you care about so much and you think you kind of messed up.”Bryant averaged 24.6 points on a career-low 37.2-percent clip in 35.4 minutes through the Lakers’ first 27 games. But after going through a five-game stretch averaging 20.6 points on a 29.2-percent clip, Bryant sat three consecutive games in late December. Before his recent absence, Bryant became a facilitator and averaged 17 points on 40.9-percent shooting and eight assists in 31.4 minutes.“If I would’ve stuck to 32 minutes, or 33 at the most, he might have been able to play a little more in these games that he missed,” Scott said. “I have to move on from it and learn from my mistakes.”Bryant will sit out Friday’s contest against Utah, representing Scott’s new quest to sit the Lakers star in at least one night of the Lakers’ eight remaining sets of back-to-back games. Scott practiced Bryant on Monday only so he could build rhythm. “He looked more focused,” Lakers forward Nick Young said of Bryant.center_img Seeking feedbackNever has Young seen a shot he does not like. Never has he taken a shot he felt unsure would drop into the basket.But after averaging 12.4 points on only 25-percent shooting the past five games, Young spent part of Monday’s practice consulting with Scott and Bryant on how to overcome his recent struggles.Scott repeated criticisms in recent days to Young about expanding his game and showing a more serious approach during shooting drills.“I needed Coach to talk to me today. Everybody needs somebody sometime,” Young said. “I feel all right and feel more confident. My teammates are talking to me.”That mostly included Bryant, who has experienced plenty of shooting slumps during his 19-year career. This season, Bryant has averaged 23 points on a career-low 37.5-percent shooting.“He’s teaching me ways to get open and hit teammates,” Young said of Bryant. “If you pass the ball and they knock down a couple shots, they can’t double-team you anymore.”Young has averaged only one assist per game. Meanwhile, Young has shot only 5 of 29 (17.2 percent) from beyond the perimeter in the past five games. Meanwhile, Young has made all 25 of his free-throw attempts during that stretch.“If he wants to help us win, you have to rebound and defend, get steals and communicate on that end of the floor,” Scott said. “It was a good talk and I think he’ll respond.”last_img

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