The goal remains too early to implement.
But one of Mike Brown's biggest goals beyond compiling as many wins as possible in this compressed 66-game schedule involves lowering Kobe Bryant's minutes.
The only problem: Bryant's minutes have actually increased. Even though Brown has hoped to play Bryant 33 to 35 minutes per game, the Lakers star has actually averaged 37.7. In the last five games, Bryant's minutes per contest spiked to 41. That's far more than the 33.9 minutes he averaged last season and even his career-average of 36.4.
"I talked to [Kobe] about increasing minutes right now," Brown said, "so we can win a few games so we can get a cushion in the win-loss column."
Yet, that short-term goal appears as difficult to juggle as hoping Bryant can reduce his shooting load for the sake of a more balanced offense. Bryant has scored at least 40 points in four of the last five games, but Brown believes a more sustainable strategy would involve an inside-out offense that features multiple double-digit scorers.
But it remains clear Brown doesn't feel fully comfortable with the play of Bryant's supporting cast to reduce his workload and his minutes. He played Bryant 38 minutes in the Lakers' 73-70 victory Monday over the Dallas Mavericks, despite hoping to limit his time to 35.
"If we can get a rhythm on both ends of the floor," Brown said, "it will put me at ease a little bit more."
That remains unrealistic at this point.
Shannon Brown's departure to Phoenix has made it more difficult to give Bryant rest, considering Brown averaged 8.7 points and important 19.1 minutes behind him at shooting guard. That's because the Lakers hardly have good options. Jason Kapono appears more natural at small forward, while rookie Andrew Goudelock often proves to play erratically.
That puts the pressure more on Bryant to produce.
"He's been doing a great job," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "He's definitely been asked to score more this year with the loss of [Lamar Odom], and so have Pau [Gasol] and myself. From our three, we really need big games every night in order for us to be a competitive team."
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