Bryant’s Minutes (Significantly) Down

Last April, Kobe Bryant averaged 39 minutes and 23 seconds per game despite battling various ailments that forced him to miss four of the team’s final five games.

He averaged 39:00 minutes in March, 40:12 in February and 38:47 for the season, which was the seventh most in the entire NBA.

But this year, Bryant is playing only 33:53, by far his fewest minutes since his second NBA campaign back in 1997-98 (26:00). He’s not even in the top 50 in the league, yet still ranks sixth in scoring (25.1 points per game).

Phil Jackson acknowledged prior to the team’s Friday evening game in Portland that this is no accident, as the season splits suggest.

The most minutes Bryant has played in any month were his 36:12 in February. He also played 34:00 in January, but has otherwise been between 32:17 (December) and 33:47 (November). Of late, he’s been down to 33:42 in March and 33:30 in April. Bryant has not spent a lot of time on the practice court throughout the season, and has been as diligent (read: maniacal) as ever with his rehabilitation and preventative work, all designed to have him in the best shape possible for the playoffs.

All of this good news for the Lakers.