Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott finally admitted that playing the young players in his squad may be a better option for his team, for the long term, rather than playing 37-year-old Kobe Bryant, who is in his “farewell tour” this season.
"Eventually, it's going to be kind of like this anyway. It's going to come a point in time, probably in the second half of the season, where Kobe doesn’t play a lot in that fourth quarter, just so these guys can grow." Scott said to NBC Los Angeles about Bryant’s decision not to play for most of the second half and overtime in Wednesday’s 123-122 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bryant, who announced weeks ago that this would be his final season, reportedly told Scott during the Timberwolves game to “let the kids play” and the head coach obeyed choosing to play rookie D’Angelo Russell in the latter part of the match-up against the Timberwolves when the game was still on the line.
Russell, who finished with 23 points off the bench, appreciated the show of confidence from his veteran teammate and delivered the game-tying basket that forced the extra period.
Bryant played in just 25 minutes scoring 11 points and tied the lowest playing time he had this season when he played the same number of minutes in a blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 24.
For the season, Bryant still averages 32.5 minutes per game, but with the latest statement from Scott, it appears some of those minutes will be given to first-year guard Russell and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson, two of the younger guys in the team.