LOS ANGELES—Kobe Bryant will sit out the Los Angeles Lakers’ last game of the NBA regular season in Sacramento on Thursday, ensuring Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant the league’s scoring title.
Bryant would have needed to score 38 points to deny Durant a third straight scoring title.
But with the contest meaningless as far as playoff position, and the Lakers due to open their post-season campaign on Sunday against either Dallas or Denver, coach Mike Brown said Thursday his superstar would sit out, according to a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.
While reaction from Lakers fans was swift and disappointed, Bryant had already said he was more concerned with maximizing the Lakers’ playoff prospects.
“I don’t care about that,” Bryant said. “If I did, I would have gone for 50 (last week) in San Antonio.”
The Lakers clinched the Pacific Division and third seed in the Western Conference when the Clippers lost at Atlanta on Tuesday.
Their first-round opponent was to be decided on Thursday night.
Durant scored 32 points in the Thunder’s 106-101 loss to Denver on Wednesday, Oklahoma City’s final game of the regular season. He finished the regular season averaging 28.0 points per game.
Bryant is averaging 27.9 points per game.