Thomas Bryant enjoyed a longer shift on Wednesday again, racking up double-digit points in the 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Bryant’s role keeps changing from game to game despite a couple of strong performances after he finally made his season debut in mid-November — delayed by preseason surgery on his injured thumb. In six appearances, the 25-year-old center averages 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game over 14.6 minutes on the court.
But against the Blazers, Bryant spent nearly 20 minutes in action, chalking up 14 points on 66.7% from the field in addition to six rebounds and three assists. He also made his first triple of the season, converting one of his three attempts from beyond the arc.
After the game, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham emphasized the big man’s input on both ends of the floor, particularly amid a difficult matchup with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic.
“Thomas [Bryant] coming off, you know, just being ready, setting good screens, rolling, constantly running in transition, battling on the post — [Jusuf] Nurkic is no easy cover for anyone,” Ham said.
“And just to see him battle, come up with some huge rebounds and putbacks and whatnot, finishes.”
Ham didn’t rule out entrusting Bryant with more rotation minutes moving forward, although the head coach said the center’s role will depend on the matchup on any given night.
“Absolutely. We’ll see,” Ham said.
“You know, obviously, a lot of these things are based on — we try to force our will with our rotation, but a lot of times you can’t fool yourself, like other teams are gonna make you adjust certain elements of your rotation.
“So we plan against a bigger and more athletic physical team. But yes, you know, it’s a smaller way much faster team, and then we have to make proper adjustments. So tonight, he was able to be out there, and he did very, very well.”
Lakers waive Matt Ryan to open up roster spot
As Ham continues to figure out his most effective rotation, the Lakers decided to waive Matt Ryan after the win over the Blazers.
L.A. reportedly parted with the forward to open up a roster spot ahead of Dec. 15 when free agents from this past summer become trade-eligible again.
Ryan will be remembered for his buzzer-beater 3 that sent the November clash with the New Orleans Pelicans to overtime — allowing the Purple and Gold to claim the win in extra time.