Kobe Bryant plans to play Friday against the Spurs

Updated from earlier tonight …

OAKLAND — Kobe Bryant shot baskets Wednesday afternoon, running and jumping without pain about three hours before the Lakers faced the Golden State Warriors. Then he sat out for the seventh and final game because of an injured left shin.

The Lakers will wait to see how he responds from his toughest workout since he was sidelined by tenosynovitis April 7. However, Bryant said with a degree of certainty that he would be ready to play Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

“Why not?” he said after the Lakers’ victory over the Warriors. “I’m good.”

Bryant said sitting out wasn’t fun.

“It’s been good to see how much guys have progressed, doing things they would ordinarily not try to do,” he said. “When I’m not out there, you have to do other things. You have to experiment with your game. They had a great deal of success with it.”

The Lakers were 5-2 without Bryant, including a victory and a defeat against the Spurs. They hardly missed him during their 99-87 victory over the Warriors, when they led by as many as 23 points in the second half.

Bryant played four games after he was injured before sitting out the Lakers’ loss April 7 to the Phoenix Suns, which ended his streak of 138 consecutive games played. He’s sat out more than seven games only three times in his 16-season career.

“He’s making progress,” coach Mike Brown said of Bryant, who was injured when he was kicked in the shin during the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the New Orleans Hornets. “We like where he is right now. He’s just not completely right.

“Just because a guy can run and jump and shoot, that doesn’t mean there’s a comfort level from everybody to put him back out there. We’re going to hold him out (Wednesday). There’s a chance (Friday), but we’ll re-evaluate him (today).”

The Lakers called off their scheduled practice Thursday in San Francisco, so the first chance they’ll have to get Bryant on the court will be at Friday’s morning shootaround in San Antonio. Bryant said he expected no setbacks.

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Kobe Bryant sits again, but is closer to return to the lineup

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

OAKLAND — Kobe Bryant shot baskets Wednesday, running and jumping without pain about three hours before the Lakers played the Golden State Warriors. Then he sat out for the seventh consecutive game because of an injured left shin.

It might be the last game he misses.

Or it might not be the last time he sits out.

The Lakers will wait to see how he responds to his toughest workout since he was sidelined by tenosynovitis April 7. They couldn’t say with any degree of certainty whether he would be ready to play Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

It does seem possible he could go against the Spurs, although Sunday’s regular-season home finale against the Oklahoma City Thunder would appear as likely. The Lakers conclude the lockout-shortened season April 26 at Sacramento.

The playoffs begin April 28 or 29.

“He’s making progress,” coach Mike Brown said of Bryant, who was injured when he was kicked in the shin during the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the New Orleans Hornets. “We like where he is right now. He’s just not completely right.

“Just because a guy can run and jump and shoot, that doesn’t mean there’s a comfort level from everybody to put him back out there. We’re going to hold him out (Wednesday). There’s a chance (Friday), but we’ll re-evaluate him (Thursday).”

The Lakers are scheduled to practice Thursday in San Francisco before they fly to San Antonio for their third game in 10 days against the Spurs. Given the grind of the season plus a 3 1/2-hour flight, it’s likely they’ll take the day off, however.

The Lakers were 4-2 without Bryant, including a victory and a defeat against the Spurs, going into Wednesday’s game against the Warriors. The Lakers won the first three games against the Warriors, including the one immediately after Bryant was hurt.

Bryant played four games after he was injured before sitting out the Lakers’ loss April 7 to the Phoenix Suns, which ended his streak of 138 consecutive games played. He sat out more than seven games only three times in his 16-season career.

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How many games will it take to get Kobe Bryant back up to speed?

Lakers coach Mike Brown couldn’t say for certain how many games he would like to see Bryant play before the playoffs begin either April 28 or 29. The Lakers have only four regular-season games remaining, including Wednesday against the Warriors in Oakland
.
“It’s just a guessing game,” Brown said. “We could say it’s three. We could say it’s zero. We could say it’s one. It’s just a guessing game. I don’t think there’s an exact science to it. … He can fit in seamlessly with any group of guys, in my opinion.

“We’re taking our time with it. We want to make sure it’s right. We’ve seen the progress he’s made and we’re happy about the progress he’s made. It’s just a matter of us wanting to be cautious about it and making sure he’s back at full strength.”

Bryant has a condition called tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheath that protects his shin tendon near where it meets his foot. He was injured when he was kicked in the shin during the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the New Orleans Hornets.

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Kobe Bryant not expected to play against Spurs

Tomorrow’s story today …

Kobe Bryant posed for the Lakers’ team photo Monday, shot some baskets on his own and then left for home. He isn’t expected to play Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs, sidelined for the sixth consecutive game because of an injured left shin.

The Lakers have won four in a row without him, including a 14-point victory last week over the Spurs in San Antonio. He also could be out for a seventh game when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Oakland.

No question, the Lakers are better with him than without him and his league-leading average of 28.1 points. No, the question is, can they get him healthy enough to play a couple of tune-up games before the playoffs begin later this month?

Bryant said during an TV interview during Sunday’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks that he would “definitely be back well before the playoffs.” He is making progress, but hasn’t participated in anything that could be confused with practice.

Coach Mike Brown said he is content to wait until Bryant is sound before returning him to the Lakers’ starting lineup. It could be several more games before Bryant’s shin is healed enough for him to play again.

The Lakers have five regular-season games remaining, including tonight against the Spurs. They face the Warriors on Wednesday, the Spurs on Friday in San Antonio, Oklahoma City on Sunday at home and the Kings on April 26 in Sacramento.

The playoffs begin either April 28 or 29.

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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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How many more games might Kobe Bryant miss?

Late night reading …

More and more it appears Kobe Bryant will be sidelined for more than just a handful of games because of a left shin injury. He sat out for the fourth consecutive game, watching Friday’s contest against the Denver Nuggets from the Lakers’ bench.

Bryant is likely to miss a few more games, too.

“You’ve got to walk before you can run,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “He is now walking pain free. The next step is for him to run. If he can run pain-free, then the next step would be jumping. If he can do that, he can start playing again.”

Bryant is not ready to try running, according to Black.

“There’s no timetable to put on it,” Black added.

Bryant has tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendon sheath near where his shin tendon meets his left foot. He was injured when he was kicked in the shin during the first quarter of the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the New Orleans Hornets.

The Lakers want him recovered from the injury before the playoffs begin later this month. They have six regular-season games remaining, including Sunday afternoon against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

“We knew it was going to be a process,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “We knew it was an injury where we didn’t want to rush him back. We want to make sure we followed the right procedure. So, that’s what we’re doing. He’s making progress.”

Brown couldn’t say whether Bryant might miss the rest of the regular season.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “I went to (athletic trainer) Gary (Vitti), and asked if he could play (Friday). I said, ‘OK.’ I didn’t ask about Sunday. … I don’t know if we have any other options because another Kobe isn’t going to walk through the door.

“You go with what you have and play the game the best way you can.”

The Lakers’ upcoming schedule is taxing, with home games Sunday against the Mavericks and Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs before they face the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Oakland and the Spurs on Friday in San Antonio.

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Pau Gasol’s words of wisdom to the Lakers

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story today …

Amazing what one lopsided victory can do for a team’s confidence, momentum and credibility, too. But then somebody had to go and act like the adult in the room after the Lakers’ 98-84 victory Wednesday over the San Antonio Spurs.

“Every time we have a good win, a solid win, we need to build on it,” power forward Pau Gasol cautioned. “We can’t be content or too satisfied with it. It just doesn’t work that way. Now we have Denver at home (tonight). …

“We can’t get too high up on any win, because if we lose the next game, what does it mean? What have we done? It’s pointless. We have to come out (tonight against the Nuggets) and play as hard as we did (Wednesday against the Spurs).”

Consistency has been a difficult concept for the Lakers to master during this lockout-compressed season. One night, it looks like they have it nailed and are clicking in all facets of the game. The next, it appears they’re playing with a square basketball.

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Kobe Bryant unable to play against the Spurs, plus a few other items of interest

Tomorrow’s notebook today …

SAN ANTONIO — Kobe Bryant eased off the training table at one end of the recreation center gym, limped past a group of reporters, said a few “Wassups,” and walked outside to talk to a couple of die-hard Lakers fans waiting for autographs in the hot Texas sun.

The Lakers defeated the New Orleans Hornets without the league’s leading scorer Monday and lost Saturday to the Phoenix Suns without him. They said he’s improving, but not enough to allow him to play tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

Officially, Bryant’s status for tonight’s game remains day-to-day because of a sore left shin. Also officially, the Lakers don’t mind if he doesn’t play, sitting out for a third consecutive game because of a condition called tenosynovitis.

“The good part about it is we have a couple more shots at them,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said of facing the Spurs tonight and twice more in the next 10 days. “It’s OK that it’s taking time for him to get (his shin) right.”

The Lakers play the Spurs tonight and then Tuesday at Staples Center and once more on April 20 in San Antonio after not playing them once during the first 58 games of the lockout-shortened 66-game season.

“That is a little weird,” Brown said.

Bryant, who was hurt when he was kicked in the shin in the first quarter of the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the Hornets, acted as cheerleader and assistant coach while seated on the bench during the first two games on this three-game trip.

“I felt like he really brought the group closer together because he was so engaged with what we had going on,” Brown said. “He was always in the mix and when you see your leader in the mix, it makes everyone else want to be a part of it, too.”

Bryant is averaging 28.1 points, tops in the NBA.

Brown’s homecoming

The pupil meets the professor when Brown and the Lakers face Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Brown served as an assistant on Popovich’s staff from 2000-03, and considers him to be his closest friend in coaching.

“He still helps me out,” Brown said. “He knows people very well.”

In addition to catching up with his mentor, Brown planned a family reunion of sorts with his parents and sisters and their families, who call San Antonio home. Actually, they moved to town after Brown left to be an assistant with the Indiana Pacers.

Asked whether he expected his friendship with Popovich to be put on hold for tonight’s game, Brown smiled, laughed and then said, “He said he’s going to kick my behind. He said he hopes everything falls apart when we play them.”

Brown lost to Popovich in the 2007 NBA Finals, when the Cleveland Cavaliers got smoked by the Spurs in four games. A laughing Brown said the loss did nothing to test their friendship because “he just kicked my behind.”

Sessions update

A sore left shoulder and a jammed right index finger couldn’t prevent point guard Ramon Sessions from having one of his finest all-around games Monday against the Hornets since his March 15 trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sessions scored 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including a driving two-handed dunk in the third quarter and a key 3-pointer in the fourth, and added six rebounds and six assists. He also had only two turnovers in 32:17.

He figures to face a big challenge from San Antonio’s Tony Parker tonight.

“Just got to grind it out and get ready for the playoffs,” Sessions said of playing with the injuries. “What have we got? Nine or 10 games left?”

Actually, it’s only eight.

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Mavericks punt Lamar Odom back to L.A., but probably not back to the Lakers

The Dallas Mavericks cut ties with versatile forward Lamar Odom, planning to list him as inactive for the rest of the season instead of releasing him. It means the Lakers can’t re-acquire him unless it’s through a trade in conjunction with the June 29 draft.

The Lakers traded Odom to the Mavericks in December for a first-round draft pick and an $8.9-million trade exception after he pushed to be dealt when the team tried and failed to deal him to the Hornets for point guard Chris Paul.

Odom, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2010-11, struggled from the start with the defending champion Mavericks. Kobe Bryant said last month that the Mavericks hadn’t figured out how to use Odom, adding that he hoped they never figured out how to do it.

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Kobe Bryant sits out again and that’s OK with Lakers coach Mike Brown

NEW ORLEANS — Kobe Bryant will get as long as he needs to get his sore left shin right, even if it means the Lakers slip a place or two in the Western Conference standings, coach Mike Brown said Monday morning.

Bryant wasn’t fit to play in Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Hornets. His streak of consecutive games ended at 138 when he sat out the Lakers’ 20-point loss Saturday to the Phoenix Suns.

Brown couldn’t say when Bryant, the league’s leading scorer with an average of 28.1 points, would be sound enough to play. The Lakers conclude their three-game trip Wednesday against the Spurs in San Antonio.

“I’d rather he’d be fresh going into the playoffs and us being fourth or fifth than him hurting or dinged up going into the playoffs and we’re third,” Brown said. “If we play the right way, whether Kobe’s playing or not, we should still be OK or give ourselves a chance to still get that third seed.”

Bryant declined an interview request and didn’t speak to reporters before or after the Lakers’ 125-105 loss to the Suns. The Lakers didn’t practice Sunday, but held an extended shootaround Monday morning at the New Orleans Arena.

“As crazy as this sounds, I think it’s good,” Brown said of resting Bryant with nine games remaining in the lockout-shortened 66-game season. “I’m more than OK with it. That’s why you have 12, 13, 14 guys on your team.

“I would rather have Kobe than not. Is that clear? It’s good for him to rest. It’s good for him to have some time off and get his body right and get this injury right, especially at this point in the season. I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Brown said he would give Devin Ebanks a second consecutive start in Bryant’s place. Ebanks scored a career-best 12 points Saturday, making 6 of 11 shots and grabbing four rebounds in 32 minutes, 12 seconds in only his 15th game in 2011-12.

Bryant was injured when he was kicked in the left shin during the Lakers’ victory March 31 over the Hornets at Staples Center. He is suffering from tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon in his left shin.

There is no timetable for his return to the starting lineup, according to Brown.

“It’s not the end of the world if he needs another game,” Brown said. “I don’t need to second-guess this one at this time.”

“These guys have so many division titles,” he added when asked about winning a fifth consecutive Pacific Division championship. “I don’t think they know how many they have. They don’t care about that. If you win it, great, if you don’t, let’s go play.”

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