Kobe under the weather

Kobe Bryant missed practice today because of a sore throat. Will he play in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets on Monday night at Staples Center? No one seemed to know, but you can bet the house on his participation. Bryant hasn’t missed a game in two seasons. He’s played with all kinds of bumps and bruises, plus a damaged pinky that needs surgery. He hurt his digit last February. That’s last February as in February 2008.

Meanwhile, it appears Andrew Bynum will start after moving to a backup’s role for Games 4 and 5 of the Lakers’ opening-round series against the Utah Jazz. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said today that Bynum’s chances of starting against Yao Ming and the Rockets were “90 percent.” Lamar Odom is expected to return to a backup’s role.

Luke Walton vowed to play in the second round after damaging a ligament in his left ankle during Game 4 against Utah. Walton’s participation will be made just before the opening tip Monday, Jackson said. Walton, a backup forward, did not practice with his teammates today, but has been making rapid progress in his physical therapy.

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