Kobe Bryant skipped practice Tuesday because of an ongoing foot injury. He said he is about 90 percent at this point, but that he expects to start against Utah Wednesday night.
Lakers coach Mike Brown, once again, repeated that he was concerned about Bryant playing too many minutes.
"I want to try to really be conscious of Kobe's minutes," Brown said. "What I can do is, as we go on, is continue to be more conscious of not throwing him out there."
To this point, Brown's actions have not been in line with his words. After four games, Bryant is averaging a team-high 37 minutes per game. Most recently, Bryant put in a season-low 32 minutes against the Detroit Pistons in a blowout victory, but even in that performance, Brown did not exactly protect his superstar.
What was most troubling about Brown's use of Bryant in the game against Detroit was the coach's decision to re-insert No. 24 with about nine minutes to go in the 4th quarter. At that point, the Lakers were up by 24.
Understandably, the coach was desperate for a victory, but putting recovering superstars -- Dwight Howard was also re-inserted into the game -- on the court with a 24-point lead hardly seems like the action of a cautious coach.
Against the Clippers, Bryant played a game-high 43 minutes. No other player on either team logged more than 40 minutes, and the Clippers did not have a single player over 35 minutes. With Antawn Jamison struggling to score with the Lakers' second unit and the rest of the bench not consistently performing up to standard, Brown has been consciously playing Kobe for significant minutes.
Brown may be "conscious" of Kobe’s minutes, but he's clearly more concerned with getting wins in the present than saving his 34-year-old superstar for the future.