After losing to the Bulls on Christmas and the Mavericks a day later, the Lakers
finish up their three game road trip today in Phoenix are back at home to play against the Suns. And when they do, a familiar face will be back in the lineup:
There was some uncertainty of Kobe would play tonight after the two-game trip, but Scott confirmed he's ready to go vs. Phoenix.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 28, 2014
If you were wondering, though, don’t expect him to return to his normal workload — at least from a minutes perspective:
Kobe got shots up yesterday & this morning. Feeling pretty good. Byron is looking for him not to over exert himself tonight. Around 30 mins.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 28, 2014
At this point, playing 30 minutes should be the ideal every night and not just because he’s coming off missing three games due to “general soreness”, but I’ll take it anyway I can get it. Ideally, I’d like to see Kobe play six to eight minutes to start each half and another six to seven minutes in the 2nd and 4th quarters with Young and Ellington sliding in at SG when Kobe sits and Lin taking up a bigger workload in general. This would allow all the players on the win ample time in the lineup to find a rhythm without putting too much burden on any one of them to produce. If one of them is hot, you can ride them for longer or adjust accordingly, but overall this would offer a nice mix that allows each player a chance to play a reasonable amount of minutes. We’ll see what Byron Scott does, however.
As for the style in which Kobe plays, I hope that both he and Scott are ready to make some adjustments to that as well. Rather than have Kobe always playing ball side and occupying key real estate in the mid-post, I’d like to see him set up more on the weak side where he can work off the ball and make his catches against defenders who are rotating to him. This is especially true whenever he’s in the game with Lin and or Young as both of them are more than capable of creating shots for themselves on the strong side of the offense. Run Lin in P&R’s and Young off curls on the opposite side of the floor from Kobe and when the defense gets into their rotations to slow these actions the ball can be swung to Kobe and he can either be a spot up shooter or attack a defender closing out at him.
Combine these actions with Kobe’s normal mix of post ups, isolations, and ball handling duties up high out of the P&R and there should be enough diversity in the offense so nothing gets too stale for Kobe or the rest of the team. Over the three games that Kobe missed, the rest of the guys showed they could take up a bigger load and play at least somewhat effectively, so it’s time for them to carry that over to games in which Kobe does play. As long as they don’t just defer to him and as long as Kobe (on his own and via the coach’s instruction) doesn’t simply set up in his sweet spot and expect the offense to run through him, we should see a more fluid attack with him back in the lineup. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but it should be the approach.
In the end, this may actually be the best game for Kobe to return in. This game will be their fourth game in a week and their third in four nights
on the road. Kobe returning, even in limited minutes, could give them a shot in the arm and the energy they need to compete against a more than solid Suns team.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio Los Angeles 710AM.