Byron Scott: Kobe responding well

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Friday, January 2, 2015

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Byron Scott's plan for Kobe Bryant this season is more of an ever-changing experiment than a set-in-stone policy.

After resting Bryant for three of the Los Angeles Lakers' games last week, Scott wanted to see how Bryant would perform with the added rest and playing about 32 minutes per game, down about five minutes from what he averaged the first month of the season.

Bryant responded with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in his first game back Sunday, then with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists Tuesday.

"So far, the experiment is working," Scott said. "We're just going to keep at it and see how it turns out."

Bryant sat out his second straight practice Thursday but is expected to start Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

"Kobe came in and got some shots up and got some treatment," Scott said after Thursday's practice. "He said he feels great, so we're going to stick to the plan. Tomorrow he's going to come in and get some more shots up, and we'll go through shootaround and go from there."

Although Bryant has been more of a facilitator in his return, Scott was quick to shoot down the notion that the veteran star has changed his game after taking some time off. He is simply taking what defenses give him and not forcing the issue as much as he previously did, according to the coach.

"When you guys say this is a new Kobe, this is not a new Kobe," Scott said. "This is a guy who's been doing this for 19 years. Against Denver [on Tuesday] there were times they were coming and double-teaming him and we kept our spacing, which was great, and made some great passes to guys who made shots. I don't think it's a new Kobe at all. It's just an old Kobe doing the same old things he's been doing."

Bryant, who was given Wednesday off before returning to practice Thursday, is in constant communication with Scott even when he's not at the practice facility. There's no set plan for practices or games he takes off, but there is an understanding between the two that if Bryant doesn't feel well, he'll tell Scott. And if the coach can sense Bryant isn't feeling well, he will give him the day off.

"We talk about it daily," Scott said. "We talked on the plane after the Denver game. I told him, 'Look, we'll just see you Thursday, but I'll give you a call Thursday morning and let's talk about it.' That's basically how we're doing it every day. When he tells me he feels good, OK, let's keep that going by not coming in here and trying to overdo it. If he says he feels a little down or his energy level is not there, then basically I'll tell him to stay home. It goes day by day.

"The experiment is working extremely well. The days off and 32 minutes or lower in games has been working well, and we're going to stick with that right now."

Although Bryant has been more efficient in his return, Scott doesn't want Bryant to stop shooting. As much as he likes to see an increase in Bryant's assists and rebounds, he doesn't want that to come at the expense of his aggressiveness to get his own shots.

"I'd like him to be a little more aggressive and take a little bit more shots, but it's all dictated by the way defenses are playing him," Scott said. "If you look at the Phoenix game, they doubled him, and if they didn't double him, they stacked him. Denver was the same thing, so he's basically just taking what the defenses give him, and that's what great players do. His shot selection has been great, but he hasn't gotten the number of shots we'd like for him to get on a normal basis."

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