Despite nursing a severely sprained left ankle for the past two days, Kobe Bryant will try to play when the Lakers (34-32) visit the Indiana Pacers (40-24) tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“He’s going to be productive,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. “That’s not going to be the question. He has to make sure he doesn’t make it worse.”
Bryant spent 25 minutes before the game working on his shot. Earlier, Bryant attended morning shootaround Friday to receive more treatment, but wasn’t on the court during the team walk throughs. Bryant declined to speak to reporters afterwards.
But he’s already said plenty regarding his contention that Atlanta guard Dahntay Jones knowingly “walked underneath him” while shooting an 18-foot fadeaway in the final seconds of the Lakers’ 96-92 loss Wednesday to the Hawks.
“Officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant said afterward.
The NBA said Thursday that Bryant should have been awarded two free throws because he was not given “the opportunity to land cleanly back on the floor.” Yet, Jones won’t face any league-imposed penalties for the play.
“It was a classic that [Kobe] came down on a foot and turned it,” D’Antoni said. “I agree with the NBA, but it happens all the time. It’s one of those bad things. They did make a conscious effort to say that if you come down on somebody’s foot that’s an automatic foul.”
Does D’Antoni believe Dahntay positioned himself intentionally so Bryant would fall on his foot?
“I don’t,” D’Antoni said.