Mike Brown is back; Kobe Bryant is still out

Tomorrow’s story today …

Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant will be back on the Lakers’ bench Sunday.

Brown did not coach the Lakers in their victory Friday over the Denver Nuggets, but will return for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Bryant couldn’t play Friday and also will miss Sunday’s game because of a shin injury.

“It was one of those instances when it was time to be with the family and it was the right thing for me to do, which was to leave,” Brown said Saturday of leaving the arena just before Friday’s game in order to attend to a family emergency.

Assistant coach John Kuester filled in for Brown.

“Kuester did a terrific job as well as the rest of the guys,” Brown said. “I have four guys on my staff who are capable of being head coaches next year with Darvin (Ham) on his way. The staff that I have is terrific.

“Obviously, last night was a great time to show you great our staff is.”

Actually, the Lakers had an additional assistant Friday, with Bryant leaving the spot he occupied at the end of the bench for the first three games he was sidelined to be closer to the rest of the coaching staff.

“You take (the staff’s experience) with how mature and intelligent these players are with Kobe’s leadership and it makes for an easy transition or smooth sailing whenever you face anything that is different than the norm,” Brown said.

Bryant’s injured left shin is improved and he is able to walk without pain. The next step is running without pain, which he can’t do just yet. Once he runs without pain, then the final step is jumping without pain.

It’s certainly possible he could miss several more games, including Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland and a rematch with the Spurs on Friday in San Antonio.

There is no timetable for Bryant’s return to the starting lineup. He suffers from a condition called tenosynovitis, a debilitating inflammation of the sheath that protects his shin tendon near where it meets his left foot.

Bryant was hurt when he was kicked in the shin during the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the New Orleans Hornets. He is averaging a league-leading 28.1 points.

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