"Today was a very good spirited practice. I love the way the guys came to work today," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Tuesday.
One player who did not take part in most of Tuesday's practice was 36-year-old Kobe Bryant. The coach was attempting to rest his superstar in between games to get more out of the shooting guard on game days, specifically late in games.
"We want to see this week if these two days of rest can really benefit him tomorrow," Scott said. "We'll find out the next three games. We'll get a pretty good idea of what we need to do after these three games to see if we have to give him a little bit more rest, see if we have to give him a couple more minutes off."
For the first time, Scott brought cutting Bryant's minutes into the public conversation. However, it took the aging superstar faltering late in games for that discussion to even become a possibility.
"We're just trying to figure it out," Scott continued. "He's played 19 years. He knows his body better than anybody. But we could see also watching the tape everything was a tad short, which tells me the legs were a little fatigued."
To his credit, Bryant was not stubborn about admitting his legs felt heavy at the end of games.
"The second half of games for me has been a struggle lately,” Bryant told reporters after Tuesday's practice.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
He said that he would work on a different strategy of strengthening his legs during the season, which was, admittedly, uncharted territory for a 36-year-old of his caliber.
Beyond the personal adjustments, Bryant was also adamant that the Lakers were better than their record, citing a few close games that did not end with favorable results.
"We're not a 3-11 team. We’re not,” Bryant said. "We just stick with the process. We had a tough loss against Denver. We'll just get right back on our horse and try to put ourselves in position to win tomorrow."
Bryant also touched on the Achilles injury Xavier Henry suffered at Monday's practice. Henry had successful surgery on Tuesday morning, and Bryant admitted that being present when a teammate suffered the same injury that forever changed the trajectory of Bryant's career hit close to home.
"I knew exactly what he was feeling. It took me back to that place again," Bryant said. "It's an uphill battle. It's a long hill at that. But he'll have us and he'll have me every step of the way."