Only 16 players in league history have been on the court for more regular season minutes, and only one – the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – has played more playoff minutes.
With that said, no one among the Lakers brass is going to complain that Bryant needed to play only about seven minutes in Team USA’s 110-63 victory over Tunisia.
In such limited run, Bryant made 2 of 4 shots for four points with a board. He was taken out with the rest of the starters at the five minute mark of the first, with the U.S. actually trailing 13-12, then played only a few second quarter minutes before fouls seven seconds apart gave him three*.
*Players are allowed only five fouls in international hoops.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski liked the second unit’s superior energy on the evening, and rewarded that group — Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony — by starting them in the third quarter, producing a huge run (39-14 total) to blow the game wide open. The U.S. shot 68 percent after halftime, and let its younger players like Love, Anthony Davis and James Harden close it out.
Coach K will call Kobe’s number eventually, though one wouldn’t expect a heavy workload for the No. 10 shirt in Thursday’s contest against Nigeria either.
GASOL STRONG FOR SPAIN, AGAIN:
Pau Gasol backed up a 21-point, 11-board debut with 20 more points plus four boards in only 18 minutes in an 82-70 victory over Australia, moving Spain to 2-0 in Group B.
The Spanish captain made 8 of 13 shots, including his second triple of the Olympics, plus two assists and a block. The focal point of Spain’s offense, Gasol has been the only Spaniard to hit the 20-point mark in either of their two victories.