Both started together Monday for the first time since March 30, 2013, and Thursday will mark the first time since March 23, 2013 that they will have started a game together at Staples Center.
Lakers coach Byron Scott said both will play limited minutes again after they played around 20 minutes in Monday’s preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets.
“As we get closer to the end of the preseason we’ll ratchet it up a little bit,” Scott said. “We’re going game by game and day by day. A lot of this is based on how [Kobe] feels. In the last week in a half he says he feels great. He got through training camp feeling really good and he got in great shape.”
Bryant and Nash both went through practice with the team Wednesday, but Nash was pulled early, as has been the case during training camp. While Scott believes Bryant can play 82 games and become the 25 points-per-night player he used to be, he has been much more cautious with Nash, who will turn 41 in February.
While the Lalkers will start the season with Nash as the starting point guard, Jeremy Lin is effectively the starter in waiting. He will likely play more minutes than Nash and could finish the season starting more games as well, depending on Nash’s health.
“He’s got to be ready every night,” Scott said of Lin. “Every game might be different. That’s one of the things we have that we just don’t know with Steve right now. Jeremy knows every game he’s going to play, but there’s going to be games that he’s going to start and he’s going to have to play a lot more minutes.”
There will also be times when both Lin and Nash are on the court together, which is a paring Lin is looking forward to.
“I feel like when play together either of us can bring the ball up,” Lin said. “He can score the ball, so my job is to make sure I put him in a position where he can score the ball and where he likes it the best. We’ll both be able to facilitate and create for each other.
Nick Young, who had successful surgery to repair the torn radial collateral ligament in his right thumb, returned to Lakers practice Wednesday with a cast on his right hand. He will be sidelined for eight weeks, but Scott is hopeful he can start running and conditioning by next week.
“It’s good seeing him back here with the team,” Scott said. “We know we can’t really do anything with him for the next couple of days, but when I first saw him today, I said, ‘Get your stuff on, we’re going to do some running,’ and he quickly told me 'the doctor said I can’t run for a couple of days.' But in the long run I’m going to get the last laugh, so it’s going to be happy days for me coming up.”
Lakers forward Wesley Johnson returned to practice Wednesday after suffering a sprain of the patella tendon in his left knee and will likely start Thursday’s game.
“Wesley went through everything,” Scott said after practice. “He’s fine.”
Lakers forward Xavier Henry did some light drills during practice but is still sidelined with back spasms and will not play Thursday.
“He was just basically watching and getting shots up,” Scott said. “He can’t move as well as he wants to. His back is still tender, so we have to wait until that thing calms down.”