MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kobe Bryant returned from a five-game absence because of a left ankle injury and scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first half. He had a couple of rim-rattling dunks while playing 20 minutes. He added five rebounds and four assists. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol each scored 11 points. Derek Fisher had four points, topping 9,000 for his career. O.J. Mayo (USC) scored 15 points to lead the Grizzlies, who trailed by as many as 14 points before drawing close late in the half.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kobe Bryant played in his 1,000th career game tonight and hit his first shot of the game, a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 44 seconds left in the first quarter. He drew a foul on Memphis’ O.J. Mayo and made the free throw to complete a 4-point play. Bryant sat out the Lakers’ last five games because of an injured tendon in his left ankle. He wore a high sock for stability. He also played mostly on the perimeter in the early minutes.
UPDATE: Bryant scored nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and added five rebounds and three assists to help the Lakers take a 27-16 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Kobe Bryant said today after practice that he will play in Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, ending his five-game absence because of a strained tendon/sprained left ankle. He last played Feb. 5 against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers won four of five games without him, losing only in the dying seconds Thursday against the Boston Celtics.
Here’s some interesting reading from the New York Post today. Not sure it’s anything more than wishful thinking by a New York scribe just itching to see the hometown Knicks with all the best players in the NBA next season, but it’s worth a look.
Sasha Vujacic bruised his right shoulder when he ran into a hard pick set by Boston’s Kendrick Perkins in the second half of Thursday’s game. He continued to play but knew something was wrong right away. He’s expected to be out for a couple of weeks. “It’s pretty painful,” he said earlier today. “It’s frustrating. But that’s the way it is, right? I think I fell down also. I felt something. It was frustrating. I didn’t want to come out. After the game it got worse and worse and the next day it was terrible.”
Kobe Bryant practiced with his teammates today and said he hopes to play Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers’ next game. He has been sidelined for five games because of a strained tendon in his left ankle. He gave the following update after today’s workout, which consisted of a scrimmage for him and a scrimmage and some conditioning drills for his teammates: “The ankle was still sore at certain points, but it went away. It didn’t linger or anything like that, so I was able to move and pretty much do anything I wanted.”
Derek Fisher said he wasn’t about to let his missed jump shot at the buzzer Thursday night deter him from taking other big shots in tight situations. Fisher shanked what would have been the game-winning basket and the Boston Celtics held on to win. Fisher said after the game: “If you’re confident in yourself and you know your teammates are confident in you, if you’re open, you take the shot and live with the consequences. That wasn’t the type of shot that I would like to get, but if there’s anybody else on the team that is willing to take whatever (heat) comes with it, it’s me. I just wish we would have won the game. I’ll take anything individually, as far as my stats, as long as we win the game.”
Derek Fisher missed a hurried jump shot from 20 feet as the final buzzer sounded and the Boston Celtics held on to beat the Lakers tonight at Staples Center, ending their four-game winning streak without an injured Kobe Bryant. Fisher scored only three points on 1-for-9 shooting. Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 22 points. Ray Allen had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo added 14 points, including the go-ahead runner over the outstretched arm of Lamar Odom (13 points and 14 rebounds).
So, what happened on the final play?
“Well, they had a foul to give,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the Celtics. “Fish broke off his cut. He was supposed to open the floor up and we were supposed to have an option there. It didn’t work. We had another timeout to use in case it didn’t work.”
The Lakers didn’t use that timeout, however.
What’s more, they scored only two points after taking an 84-80 lead with 7:14 remaining.
What happened there?
“We had some wide-open shots,” Jackson said. “Shannon (Brown) had a couple of wide-open shots. Pau had some opportunities. He opted to pass the second-to-last one. I still haven’t looked at that sequence. I have to look at that to understand it.”
Gasol had what looked like an open jumper along the baseline, but passed to Brown who failed to handle it cleanly and lost the ball out of bounds with 31.3 seconds left.
The Boston Celtics came out smoking tonight in the first half. They made 13 of their first 20 shots (65 percent) and hit 22 of 40 by halftime (55 percent). The Lakers couldn’t keep pace, hitting ly 18 of 42 in the first half (42.9 percent). Ron Artest led the Lakers with 12 points in the first half and Pau Gasol had 10. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum added eight apiece. Ray Allen had 12 to lead the Celtics. The Lakers played their fifth consecutive game without Kobe Bryant, who has a strained tendon in his left ankle. They were 4-0 in the first four.
It doesn’t look like the Lakers will make a move before the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday, apparently content with their roster at present. Lakers coach Phil Jackson acknowledged that he and GM Mitch Kupchak have spoken about possible deals, but nothing is going to happen. Are the Lakers doing the right thing by standing pat at the deadline?