After missing a nationally televised Christmas Day game against former teammate Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls, one found it difficult to be surprised that Kobe Bryant would miss a Martin Luther King Jr. Day game against the Phoenix Suns.
Monday night's game will be nationally televised, and Bryant will not be on the court.
Despite not traveling with the Lakers to Utah and having three full off days, Lakers coach Byron Scott announced that Bryant would not be playing in Phoenix. For the conspiracy theorists who think Scott is attempting to "tank," the Lakers lost three times to Phoenix this season with Bryant playing, so even having no. 24 on the court would not exactly promise victory.
In addition, Scott confirmed his thoughts from Sunday to sit starting point guard Ronnie Price, who is dealing with a sore right elbow. Considered one of the toughest guys on the team, Price also has a broken nose. The veteran point guard has only missed three games this season, and one of those games was due to a suspension.
Kobe Bryant will not play tonight against Phoenix for rest reasons. He will have missed eight of the Lakers' last 15 games. — Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 19, 2015
The Lakers have lost every game Price has missed. The Lakers have lost five of the seven games Bryant has missed.
With Price out, Jeremy Lin will get another opportunity to shake off a lackluster first half of the season.
Through 41 games, Lin is averaging 10.6 points, 4.4 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 turnovers in 25.8 minutes per game. In the three games Price has missed, Lin is averaging 11.0 points, 3.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 3.0 turnovers in 31.3 minutes per game. Most recently, Lin finished with six points, three turnovers, three assists and two rebounds in a loss to Utah on Friday.
Based on the three-game sample size, Lin is averaging significantly more minutes without Price in the lineup, but the 26-year-old has seen a drop in assists and an increase in turnovers. Lin also has a marginal increase in points, while his rebounds have remained steady. Everything considered, Lin has not made the most of his opportunities with the Lakers this season.
On Monday night, Lin will get yet another chance to impress for the Lakers on the national stage. The Lakers and Sun tip-off at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.