Should Kobe have been put back in the game with just under 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter? With all the wear and tear Kobe Bryant has seen over his extensive career, this is a question we as Laker fans can’t help but ask. Not to be overly critical of Mike Brown (although who isn’t nowadays), but this seemed like a rather unnecessary decision.
While the Pistons may have been on a 12-0 run, the Lakers still remained up 24 points when Kobe, Steve, and Dwight checked back into the game with 8:55 to go. Being that the Pistons struggled to put up 24 points in a full quarter on Sunday, the decision to go with Kobe over a different combination of starters seemed excessive.
In games thus far this season, Kobe has played approximately 35, 38, and 43 minutes respectively. Kobe has also been playing with an injured foot. Nobody can question his physical and mental toughness, but he was quoted after the Clipper game as saying he felt like his right foot was “about to fall off” and indicated he would need a walking boot after the game. Being that Mike Brown admitted he overplayed Kobe against the Clippers, it was surprising to see Kobe come back in the 4th quarter with such a big lead.
Overall, it was a great win (albeit against a not so great team), and you can’t blame Mike Brown too much for trying to take the cautious route. The bench squad put him in a tough situation, and being that he was (and still is) on the hot seat, I don’t think he wanted to take the slightest risk of not getting his first win of the season. For Mike Brown, monitoring Kobe’s minutes in games like this will be key going forward. Kobe’s not 20 years old anymore, and we’re going to need our starters looking fresh and healthy for when games matter most.