The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons 111-91 on Sunday afternoon for the team's 17th loss in 20 games, and Kobe Bryant had one of his worst games of the year. Bryant scored just 5 points, missing 13 of his 15 field goal attempts while suffering from a stomach virus that caused him to end his night early after playing all 12 minutes of the Lakers' third quarter.
Bryant was a game-time decision, and Lakers head coach Byron Scott told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News that he was unsure if Kobe would play less than an hour and a half before the Lakers tipped off. However, Scott left the decision of whether Bryant would play up to the man himself, and Kobe decided to play because it would be his last chance to do so in Detroit. Given that the Lakers have little chance of making a hoped for playoff run due to their moribund record, Scott was asked why he let an ill Bryant play after the game:
Why not sit Kobe? Byron: "That was going to be totally up to him." Byron said he told Kobe to value health more than making venue fans happy— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 7, 2015
Scott did say that he told Bryant to prioritize health, but in the end it falls upon the head coach to sit his players if it is in their best interests. With Kobe struggling to even reach the already low standard he has established so far this season, it is fair to wonder if he would not have been better off being benched. Scott had some interesting thoughts on Bryant's poor play after the game:
Byron blamed Kobe's poor game on his illness than part of his continuously bad shooting nights— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 7, 2015
So Bryant's illness was responsible for his bad shooting, instead of his bad shooting being responsible for his bad shooting? Sure, that makes sense. Even Kobe's struggles follow the Kobe system. His bad shooting is just a different problem, but the same issue.
With news that he required an IV after the game, it would be understandable if the Lakers were to just declare their 37-year old shooting guard out for the second game of their back to back, a Monday night showdown with the Toronto Raptors. That is not the route they are choosing to take:
Kobe could play tomorrow, basically depends on how he feels tomorrow— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 7, 2015
Will Kobe (stomach flu) play tomorrow in Toronto? "If I'm walking, I'm playing," he said.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) December 7, 2015
Scott has previously said this season that he is okay with Bryant playing big minutes as long as his average minutes per game does not exceed his average from last season. It is past time to wonder if that is the best route for Kobe and the Lakers to take going forward if they really want him to finish the season healthy.