Kobe Bryant missed his team’s Monday morning shootaround in Charlotte with “aches” and “chills,” according to the Lakers’ PR staff, and will be a game-time decision for a 4 p.m. Pacific tip against the Bobcats.
Phil Jackson said he’ll just have to wait and see how Bryant feels in advance of the game before determining his status. Of course, since he is the same Kobe Bryant who generally plays through everything, many of his teammates expect him to play.
The Bobcats (23-31) have played the Lakers extremely tough during their past two championship seasons, sweeping L.A. in 2008-09 and winning their home game last season in a 1-1 season split. In fact, Charlotte is one of only two teams in the NBA to post a winning all-time record against the Lakers (7-5), albeit with only six years of history.
Charlotte is a different team under Coach Paul Silas than it was over Larry Brown, who stepped down 28 games into the season. Silas has posted a 14-12 record since stepping in to coach for owner Michael Jordan.
“He has a very different personality (than Brown),” said Phil Jackson. “They all still have that toughness, they’ve always been a tough, defensive-minded team. Offensively I’m sure it’s simplified a little bit and probably a little (more free).”
One potential change the Lakers could see is at the point guard position, where D.J. Augustin — who was terrific when Silas first took over — has struggled markedly in recent games. Backup Shaun Livingston has been really good off the bench, meanwhile, and actually started the second half of the Bobcats’ come-from-behind victory at Atlanta on Saturday before finishing with 22 points, six boards and five assists.
Jackson said the Lakers went through the differences between the two point guards at shootaround, summarizing by likening Augustin to more of a screen/roll point guard and Livingston as one who has a nice midrange game to compliment a low post game and good all-around passing skills.
Finally, Jackson was asked the usual questions about his relationship with Michael Jordan — who often sits on the end of Charlotte’s bench — and shared that he usually spends between 20 and 30 minutes catching up with the focal point of Phil’s first six championships. Jackson quipped that Jordan may have practiced with his Bobcats’ team the other day because he needs to “lose some weight,” adding that he “might be able to” average 20 points in the NBA even to this day, as was suggested by Silas.