LA Lakers could miss out on NBA play-offs with an ageing Kobe Bryant on the court

Bryant gave critics more ammunition when he sat out their home game with Golden State last Tuesday. The Lakers won by 10 and the “better without Kobe” conversations grew heated, writes Paul Oberjuerge.
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, right, has a field-goal percentage that is cratering at 37.2 per cent while he takes 22 shots per game, almost twice as many as any teammate. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, right, has a field-goal percentage that is cratering at 37.2 per cent while he takes 22 shots per game, almost twice as many as any teammate. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Some are beginning to embrace the heresy that the Los Angeles Lakers are better off without Kobe Bryant.

Advanced statistical analysis had been suggesting just that, as the 2014/15 season unfolds, but the 36-year-old shooting guard, who this season passed Michael Jordan as the NBA’s No 3 all-time scorer, gave critics more ammunition when he sat out their home game with Golden State last Tuesday.

The Lakers won by 10 and the “better without Kobe” conversations grew heated. The stat wonks noted the Lakers’ average point differential was 21.4 points higher with Bryant off the court and they were also 24.4 points per 100 possessions worse with Bryant on the floor.

It seems clear the Lakers are in no hurry to replace their sole surviving star, even if his field-goal percentage is cratering at 37.2 per cent while he takes 22 shots per game, almost twice as many as any teammate.

Byron Scott, Lakers coach, left no doubt where he stands on the issue. Those advocating Kobe sit “are idiots”, Scott said. “He’s one of the best to ever play the game. You take him off the team, you’re going to have nights where you struggle, period.”

Bryant has pain in his knees, feet, back and Achilles tendon. Perversely, he will be back in the line-up as soon as possible mostly because the Lakers are awful.

A team contending for the play-offs would not build its offence around an ageing star who misses nearly 63 per cent of his shots.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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