Lakers News: Latest on Kobe Bryant's Role, Larry Nance Injury and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2015

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers opened the season with a loss Wednesday.
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers opened the season with a loss Wednesday.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers, the league's most interesting mix of old and new, are off to an 0-1 start. 

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves to kick off the season Wednesday and took a 112-111 loss after seeming to take their foot off the pedal late.

While some might consider it a disappointing start, others would point in the direction of encouragement, as the young players looked good. In the process, Los Angeles showed much in the way of Bryant's usage, missing players and more.

Below, let's take a look at the most recent news around the Lakers before the team next takes the court Friday at the Sacramento Kings.

Kobe Bryant's Role

Perhaps the biggest question going into the season was how the Lakers would use Bryant, who kicked off his 20th season with the franchise Wednesday.

The answer looks complicated at best. Bryant took the floor for 29 minutes and went 8-of-24 with 24 points, but Louis Williams came off the bench and added 21 points of his own on 27 minutes.

What most will gravitate to, though, is the fact that Bryant inbounded the ball with the game on the line late, giving the potential game-winning shot off to Williams instead of taking it himself.

"Don't start that," Bryant said, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. "We got a good shot. That's Lou's shot. That's a great runner for him. It hit the back heel. It's a great look for him."

The early signs? The Lakers are ready to give a bigger role to others. Nobody can forget the controversy surrounding Bryant's usage and injury last year, so the opener was perhaps a sign to expect less and less as the season wears on.

Larry Nance Jr. Latest

Part of the Los Angeles youth movement includes rookie Larry Nance Jr., who sits behind Julius Randle and Brandon Bass in the rotation at power forward.

In other words, the Lakers are one injury away from the Wyoming product seeing a healthy slate of minutes, provided he himself can get healthy soon.

As Mike Trudell of the team's website noted, Nance continues to deal with a knee issue:

Nance ended up missing the game, and now the question turns to just how long the Lakers will have to wait for him to be ready to go, especially after he dealt with a back issue at the start of the month.

Over five exhibition contests, Nance posted four or more boards and four or more points three times. His eventual return won't alter the rotation much, but it's important the team has its depth healthy for the grueling season after last year's injury-riddled campaign.

Foot off the Pedal

Fixable issues remain for the young Lakers.
Fixable issues remain for the young Lakers.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

As hinted earlier, the Lakers seemed to give away Wednesday's contest late.

After opening with a 31-22 advantage going into the second quarter, the Lakers seemed to fade the rest of the way against the Timberwolves, eventually losing the final frame 24-16.

Call it a learning experience for a young team. Coach Byron Scott touched on the issue and detailed where the team lost its way, per Trudell:

At least by Trudell's estimation, the relatively young team understood what went wrong and where:

These things will happen with such a young core.

Randle posted 30 minutes but went 5-of-13. Jordan Clarkson posted the same minute total with a 5-of-12 line. Rookie D'Angelo Russell mustered just four points and two assists on 26 minutes. Bryant cannot escape part of the blame, especially for the jump-shot part of the comment, considering he went 3-of-13 from behind the arc.

Despite the issues, the fact that they are so identifiable and fixable makes for an encouraging sign. The blueprint for the Lakers figuring this thing out and balancing the old and new well is right there.

Now it just comes down to execution.

 All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.   

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