Kobe Bryant is in the midst of his worst professional campaign, but Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott has no plans to rest him, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I have not considered that yet. It’s too early in the season,” said Scott. “I think he’s [Bryant]averaging about 30 minutes a game. He’s still getting plenty of rest. I don’t think so — maybe [he] is, but in my opinion watching it, I don’t think so. Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot. In the last few days, he said he feels great. I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired, or his legs behind tired, I think it’s just a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Bryant is coming off a season-low four point, six rebound and two assist performance in the Los Angeles’ 111-77 loss to Golden State on November 24. He was just 1-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-7 on his three-point attempts.
Bryant has played 11 in the Lakers (2-12), 14 games thus far, and is averaging 15.2 points along with 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 30.5 minutes of action. He is shooting 31.1 percent from the field and 19.5 percent from beyond the arc — both of those numbers would be all-time lows for the future Hall of Famer. Bryant has tallied double figures in 10 of his 11 appearances but has topped the 20-point plateau only once.
The Lakers, who have lost four straight, are struggling in nearly all facets. Los Angeles is averaging 96.7 points (No. 27 in the league) and has tallied 100 points on five occasions though just once in the past nine games. The Lakers rank No. 29 in point differential, tied for No. 29 in field goal percentage, No. 24 in three-point shooting, No. 26 in assists, No. 26 in opponents scoring, and No. 21 in rebounding.
In other NBA news, the Brooklyn Nets fell to 1-9 on the road this season after falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-99 on Wednesday night. Brook Lopez led the Nets (3-12) with 26 points. Brooklyn had won three straight in Oklahoma City and were looking to join the San Antonio Spurs as the only team to win four straight there, per ESPN.
Head coach Steve Clifford recently signed a four-year contract with the Charlotte Hornets. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweeted that the first three years of his extension are guaranteed while 2019-20 season is a team option.
The New York Knicks dropped their final two contests after starting their four-game road trip with two victories. The Knicks, who saw their first four-game winning streak since the end of the 2013-14 season snapped earlier this week, are 8-8 on the season.
20-year old Kristaps Porzingis is having an outstanding rookie campaign. The 7-foot-3 center has been dominant on the defensive end, particularly in the last five games. He is averaging 18.0 points, 10.6 caroms, and 3.4 blocks while knocking down 50.0 percent of his three-point attempts over that stretch. Porzingis also picked up three of his seven double doubles over that five-game span.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (11-4) held a players-only meeting following their 103-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The loss was the Cavs’ third in the last six games.
Jon Leuer has been a key member off the bench for the Phoenix Suns according to Ben York of NBA.com. Leuer, who was acquired from Memphis on draft day, scored season-high 20 points and 12 rebounds in the Suns’ 120-114 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. He was 9-of-15 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Leuer is averaging 6.6 points while shooting 52.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from beyond the arc in the past five games. The 6-foot-10 “stretch-four” is averaging 6.5 points along with 5.3 caroms and 1.0 assist this season. He is shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent on three-point attempts.
The Arizona Republic reports that Phoenix (7-8) called-up Bryce Cotton from the D-League to add depth to their backcourt as well as provide scoring punch off the bench. Cotton was averaging 22.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in his first four D-League games this season for San Antonio D-League affiliate Austin.
The Los Angeles Clippers (7-8) are still trying to find some consistency as head coach Doc Rivers continues to experiment with his lineup. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reports that Wesley Johnson may earn more starts at small forward due to the energy he brings. Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce have also started at small forward.
Portland Trail Blazers reserve guard Gerald Henderson has struggled since returning to the lineup following hip surgery in July and has told Jason Quick of CSNNW.com that he needs more time to round into form.
“You know, it’s tough. I’m coming back from surgery, trying to implement myself into what we are doing … and I just haven’t found my rhythm yet,” Henderson admitted. “It will take me a while to get into the type of shape I’m used to being in. You missed pretty much the whole summer, the preseason, and the start of the year … like I said, I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s nothing more than that.”
Henderson, who was acquired from Charlotte in the Nicolas Batum trade, is averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in eight games this season. He is shooting 32.6 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.
[Photo by Theoron W.. Henderson/Getty Images)