Kobe Bryant isn’t used to taking a back seat when it comes to his role with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that’s exactly what he did on Friday night in a demoralizing 132-114 loss to the Sacramento Kings. When it comes to rookie D’Angelo Russell, second-year players Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, Bryant has to let go and allow them to go through the growing pains of becoming viable NBA players.
He has to do it, even though the results may be as painful as the loss on Friday, where Los Angeles allowed a mind-boggling 80 points in the paint. Bryant’s role in the loss was different, but it was also by design.
“I’m really wanting to let the young guys, especially D’Angelo, let him call the game,” Bryant said. “Let him call the game. Let him organize the game. Let him read the game. Let him read the flow. Let him make those decisions.
“Which is part of me taking a step back, which needs to be done. You have to let the young guys make those reads and you have to be able to help them and support them with those reads.”
Russell finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 from the field and totaled four rebounds. He committed four turnovers with zero assists and was minus-16 in the differential. Bryant played just 22 minutes in the rout, going 1-of-8 from beyond the arc and adding 13 points and three assists.
The Lakers face the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
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