Lakers’ Kobe Bryant sits out of 101-88 loss to Heat because of back tightness

first_img“When he says he can’t go, you know he’s hurting,” Scott said. “The level of concern is pretty up there right now.”Scott feels the same way about the Lakers’ play. The Lakers (1-6) became just as overwhelmed with the Heat (5-3) with Bryant sporting a dapper suit on the bench instead of wearing his No. 24 jersey on the court. “Nobody was demanding the ball as much, but that could be good and bad,” said Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who sat out the fourth quarter for the third time this season after posting four points on 2-of-6 shooting, four assists, four rebounds and two turnovers in 21 minutes. “When you get to half-court offense and call a set, Kobe could have a mismatch so you got to get him the ball. Seventy five percent of the time, he’ll make a good play. Tonight I had to live with whoever was open and make the right play that way.”The Heat eliminated the Lakers’ chances to steal a win with an 8-0 run midway through the third quarter and a 14-6 run to open the fourth quarter. The Lakers also could not stop Miami’s Chris Bosh (30 points on 9-of-16 shooting, 11 rebounds) and Hassan Whiteside (19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 15 rebounds). MIAMI >> Amid all the uncertainty surrounding Kobe Bryant’s 20th and perhaps final NBA season, the Lakers star has already failed to accomplish one goal. Bryant’s hope to play in all 82 regular-season games already went unfulfilled. Bryant’s absence in the Lakers’ 101-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday at American Airlines Arena had nothing to do with rest, as the team initially explained shortly before tipoff. It had everything to do with the 37-year-old Bryant nursing what he called “soreness” in his back since training camp. He attributed the discomfort to 20 years of “wear and tear.”“I had trouble walking,” said Bryant, who reported feeling tightness while averaging 16.5 points on a career-low 32 percent shooting. “Today, I couldn’t shake it free.” Bryant argued he only needs to rest and receive ice and massage treatment he described as “around the clock.” Bryant added he will devote “90 percent” of his treatment toward his back. But Lakers coach Byron Scott said he plans to sit Bryant “as of right now” for tonight’s game in Orlando. Scott also sounded more worried than his star player. The Lakers personified their dysfunction when Heat forward Luol Deng had an open layup for a 97-79 lead with 3:49 remaining in the game as if he were in pre-game warmups. But Deng enjoyed an uncontested layup because five Lakers players stood on the floor doing nothing. Scott then called timeout, though he hardly had enough time left for his speech to fix the outcome.“You have to find out now if you want to be in a foxhole with guys,” Scott said. “You have to get to the point when you trust each other on a night-to-night basis.”The Lakers’ mediocrity overshadowed other developments. Nick Young posted a team-leading 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-9 accuracy from 3-point range. Metta World Peace added 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, with a 4-for-4 mark from 3-point range as the Lakers’ starting small forward. But nothing will overshadow Bryant, who acknowledged feeling “extremely” frustrated for his absence. The 19,825 fans even chanted Bryant’s name with 2:25 left in the game.“If I’m capable of playing, that means I get out there to play,” Bryant said. “For the fans that watched tonight, it was very tough not to be out there.”The Lakers anticipated the 37-year-old Bryant would miss games after suffering three season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons. But Scott held out optimism on Tuesday morning and shortly before tipoff that Bryant would play both Tuesday against Miami and tonight in Orlando before handling the Lakers’ 17 remaining sets of back-to-back basis as they come. “If I have to play decreased minutes because of it, I will,” Bryant said. “If I can walk and perform, I deserve to be out there playing. The fans deserve to see me out there playing.” center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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