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Lakers’ Nick Young adjusting to playing without Kobe Bryant

first_imgOnly five days ago, Lakers forward Nick Young sounded so confident that he couldn’t help but offer trash talk about Kobe Bryant. After all, the Lakers had collected a signature win against the Golden State Warriors without Bryant by showing a rare display of ball movement and shooting accuracy that has been absent for most of the season.“Pretty much going to have to tell Kobe to pass me the ball, pass us the ball,” Young said. “Tell him to take the backseat for a little bit. He can be ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and I can be Miss Daisy and drive.”It didn’t take long for Young to soften his boastful comments that were nothing more than a joke. With the Lakers (9-21) entering Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns (17-14) at Staples Center, Young has shot a combined 6 of 22 from the field in the past two games while Bryant has stayed sidelined to rest his 36-year-old body. “We’re always going to need Kobe out there on the floor, especially for players like me,” said Young, who has averaged 14.9 points on 40 percent shooting. “That releases a lot of pressure.”The Lakers have listed Bryant as “probable” to play against Phoenix. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Bryant rests periodically throughout this season after averaging 24.6 points, albeit on a career-low 37.2 percent shooting. Such a reality puts an extra burden on Young to maintain his high-volume scoring with more defenders drawn to him. “We have to get him open as much as possible. He has to take good shots and not force things,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Young. “He has a tendency to do that when Kobe is not there. It goes to show how much Kobe needed him on the floor and how much Nick needs Kobe on the floor. It creates space for both of those guys.”Limited practice Lakers forward Ryan Kelly participated in 3-on-3 drills Saturday, marking the latest progression as he nurses a torn right hamstring that has kept him out for the past 20 games. The Lakers plan to re-evaluate Kelly today and have estimated he would stay sidelined at least until January. Kelly teamed with reserves Jordan Clarkson and Robert Sacre against Lakers assistant coaches Mark Madsen, Larry Lewis and Thomas Scott. The rest of the Lakers’ roster, including Bryant, did not practice and spent Saturday resting and receiving treatment. Silent rebuttalAs he sat on the bench watching the Lakers’ eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Bryant apparently heard a Mavericks fan heckling him.Bryant did not say anything back. Instead, the Lakers’ star counted to five on one hand, suggesting the number of NBA championships he has won in his 19-year career.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more