Kobe Bryant is ready for the regular season.
That is the opinion of Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, who shut down the shooting guard for the last two games of the preseason to rest him for the games that count.
Bryant sat out Wednesday as the Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 94-86 in Ontario, Calif., and he won’t play Friday when the Lakers oppose the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas.
The 36-year-old veteran’s next action will be Tuesday in the season opener against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
“I was just thinking he needs some rest,” Scott said. “I think he’s shown me enough. I think we’re all pretty happy with where he is.”
Bryant was limited to six games last season after he came back from a torn Achilles tendon and then fractured his left knee. He is set to begin his 19th season with the Lakers, tying the NBA record held by former Utah Jazz guard John Stockton for most years spent with one franchise.
In the previous three games, Bryant produced averages of 26.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and one steal. In the last two games he played, Bryant averaged 33 minutes.
“I think each game I wanted to see if he just got stronger,” Scott said. “That’s why the last couple games I’ve been playing him more in the second half — later in the second quarters and later in the fourth quarters, just seeing how his body would react. From what I saw the last couple games, he’s getting that lift. He just looked strong down the stretch, and I thought that was important.
“Like I said, endurance-wise I think he’s there. He’s in great physical condition. So these last two games, it was more of let’s rest it and let’s be happy with that, and then we’ll move forward and get ready with the four days of work we have to do to get ready for Houston.”
Scott said he will play Bryant between 30 and 40 minutes per game.
According to the Orange County Register, Bryant didn’t speak to reporters Wednesday.
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