With the Lakers’ chances against the Clippers appearing as fragile as their aging bodies, Kobe Bryant pushed into overdrive.
The Lakers’ guard reeled off 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting. He opened the fourth quarter scoring eight of the team’s 10 points. On a night where the Lakers still struggled with elements of the Princeton offense, Bryant rightfully reverted to the Kobe System.
But it came at a cost.
After soaking in both reporters’ questions and his feet in a tub of ice for several minutes, Bryant stood up and revealed the following surrounding his strained right foot.
“It feels like it’s about to fall off right now,” Bryant said.
Bryant has missed an entire week of practice and the Lakers’ last two preseason games so he could recovery from an injury he described as an ankle contusion. The injury happened in the Lakers’ exhibition loss Oct. 21 to Sacramento where he tripped over the foot over Sacramento forward Thomas Robinson while cutting into the lane. Bryant still stayed in the game, but the foot worsened afterwards.
Bryant maintained he wouldn’t play if it would lead to further pain. But Lakers Coach Mike Brown conceded that playing Bryant 43 minutes in the in the Lakers’ loss to Clippers wasn’t a good idea.
“I’m not trying to fool anybody here, we do need a win and we hope that we could have gotten one tonight,” Brown said. “That’s part of the reason why Kobe played the minutes he played, which is too many.”
Bryant averaged 38.5 minutes last season, a number Brown vowed he would decrease this season. During the preseason, Bryant said he’d prefer playing between 32-34 minutes per night.
The Lakers don’t have practice today, but players will still report to the facility for needed treatment. The most likely candidates would involve Bryant (right foot), Steve Nash (left leg), Dwight Howard (back) and Jordan Hill (back).
Bryant’s health concerns aside, he’s still proven a lone bright spot in the team’s otherwise sluggish start. Bryant’s averaged 30.7 points on 61.4 percent shooting in 38.7 minutes, ranking second only behind Houston’s James Harden (averaging 41 points in two games).
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