Triple Threat
Covering LA Sports' Big Three: Lakers, Dodgers and Kings

Kobe Game-Time Decision with Flu-Like Symptoms

Kobe Bryant's illness may be the best time for the Lakers to shake up the lineup.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Kobe Bryant is suffering with flu-like symptoms and is a game-time decision against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night

    Kobe Bryant is a game-time decision after suffering with flu-like symptoms. Bryant did not turn up at shootaround Tuesday morning, but he has a history of playing through injury, illness, gun-shot wounds, bear attacks, etc. 

    Considering the Lakers face a 6-8 Indiana Pacers team Tuesday night -- and it is late November -- Bryant may be wise just to sit one out. Since the Lakers don’t play again until Friday, don’t be surprised when No. 24 is coughing on the floor as he drops in 30 points in a blowout victory. 

    The visiting Indiana Pacers are a dismal 2-6 on the road this season. The Lakers should be good enough to win by a significant margin even if Bryant is not able to go. But given his history, not many expect the game to start without the Mamba present.

    Just for fun, let’s pretend Bryant sits out: What would the Lakers do?

    The natural replacement would be to insert Jodie Meeks into the lineup and allow him to match up against Lance Stephenson, the Pacers’ third-year shooting guard. This would also probably result in Darius Morris and Chris Duhon playing on the floor at the same time for large chunks of the game.

    Obviously, the other natural fit would be to start both Morris and Duhon, but the Lakers lack of depth at point guard would leave the second unit without a ball handler.

    A more adventurous approach would be to use the Bryant illness as an excuse to try Pau Gasol off the bench. If the Lakers want to push the ball with the first unit, moving Jamison into the starting lineup as a power forward would create more offensive balance, quickness and spacing. 

    Jamison has been playing well in the power forward position the last couple games, and Gasol’s presence with the second unit would ensure a good shot near the basket almost every trip down the floor. If Meeks is with the first unit, Gasol with the second unit may be the added boost required to make up for the lack of scoring. 

    Also, the Lakers have Devin Ebanks willing to step in for Jamison in the small forward role, and Ebanks is a scorer when given the opportunity.

    Gasol is not a bench player, Bryant is probably going to start, and Jamison will likely see big minutes off the bench. However, shaking things up may not be a bad move for coach Mike D’Antoni. After all, it’s not important who starts the game; it’s important who finishes the game.