EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It will take drastic circumstances for Los Angeles Lakers star shooting guard Kobe Bryant not to play in Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, according to coach Byron Scott.
“You’d probably have to amputate his leg for him not to play tomorrow,” Scott said at practice on Saturday. “You guys know that. If he feels 20 percent better than he felt last night, he’s going to say, ‘I’m good.’ So again, I never scratch him out of anything except practice.
“When it comes to playing, he’s the one guy that I know that if he can walk, he’s probably going to play.”
Bryant, who has been sick since Friday, was given Saturday’s practice off to stay home and rest.
“It just might be the flu,” Scott said of Bryant’s illness. “It’s flu-like symptoms. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Scott said the team will reevaluate Bryant’s status at Sunday morning’s practice, and will likely hold the 36-year-old star from participating in any drills or scrimmages.
“I just asked him how he felt and he said, ‘I just feel really sick,’” Scott said. “I said, ‘Come in Sunday morning and we’ll see how you feel and we’ll go from there.’ I probably won’t have him doing anything tomorrow morning. I just want to see if he can get here and see how he looks and see how he feels, and then we’ll see how it is for game time.”
Bryant notably struggled in the Lakers’ 93-80 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, going just 1-for-14 (7.1 percent) from the floor, a career-low percentage for Bryant on 10 or more shot attempts.
“I just knew he wasn’t feeling well,” Scott said. “I talked to him right after the team meeting, and you could see it. I just wanted him to go home and get some rest as much as possible. The doctors took a look at him to see what was going on. Hopefully that’s what he’s doing.”
When asked if perhaps Bryant had too many minutes while sick, Scott defended his management of the 19-year veteran's playing time, claiming it was in line with the minute range Scott had decided on prior to the start of the regular season.
“First of all, I think he can handle the 30-to-40 minutes that we’ve talked about very easily,” Scott said. “He hasn’t shown any signs of letting down when it comes to that. So that’s the least of my worries -- his minutes, and trying keeping them to a minimum.
“But I also found out -- which I already knew -- was how tough this kid is. He wanted to try to gut it out as much as possible, until he really just couldn’t gut it out anymore.”
Bryant has played 37.6 minutes per game over his last five games, which is a tick under the 38.6 minutes per game he averaged during the 2012-13 season, his most recent healthy season. Despite Bryant’s insistence on playing through fatigue and injury, Scott said it has not been a difficult adjustment coaching an elite player with such a stubborn mindset.
“I’ve had the privilege and the honor of coaching a few guys that I think are probably Hall of Famers in Jason Kidd and Chris Paul,” Scott said. “I haven’t had the opportunity to coach anybody at this magnitude -- as great as Kobe is -- but I have had that opportunity. It hasn’t really been an adjustment for me.
“My adjustment has really been just trying to keep his minutes minimal. And trying to get everybody to understand how he plays, and how we have to play when he’s out there, and how we have to play when he’s not out there.”
Following Friday’s loss, Bryant was asked if he felt he could play on Sunday against the Warriors, and he surprisingly said he wasn’t sure.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Bryant told reporters. “This is the first I’ve faced this type of challenge in my career. Honestly I don’t know.”
Scott conceded Father Time could be catching up to Bryant, but he maintains the belief that Friday’s subpar performance was an anomaly.
“[Father Time is] going to catch up to all of us,” Scott said. “It’s just some people sooner than later. It’s definitely catching up to him, but in that same breath, he has a lot left in that tank at 36 years old. He’s still playing at an unbelievable level.
“Last night was just a game that he wasn’t feeling well from the start, and I think as the game went on, he started feeling worse. I think that caught up to him as well. But it catches up to all of us.”