Kobe Bryant skipped Thursday’s practice because of what Lakers described as soreness in his left foot.
But the Lakers refused to call Bryant’s absence as a setback. Instead, they characterized Bryant’s decision to miss the Lakers’ third consecutive day of practice as his ongoing effort to ensure he doesn’t experience any additional strain on his left Achilles tendon. Bryant was later seen walking to his car outside of the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo without nursing any limp.
But it’s safe to pencil Bryant out when the Lakers (5-7) host the Golden State Warriors (8-3) Friday at Staples Center. It appears unlikely Bryant will return when the Lakers play Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, either.
“It’s just precautionary,” Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I know everybody is eager. It’s going to be a little bit of a process and make sure he’s healthy when he comes back.”
D’Antoni also described Bryant as a “little tired” during Wednesday’s practice after completing two consecutive days of full-court five-on-five scrimmages seven months after shattering his Achilles. Bryant had started practicing last Saturday beginning with half-court five-on-zero drills involving strategy and shooting. But Bryant said Tuesday he still felt limited with his explosiveness, which affected his jumping and lateral movement.
“I don’t think we should be surprised about anything,” D’Antoni said. “It’s a process. You’d be surprised if he was going to play. We know he wasn’t going to play … There might be days he’ll have to take off and days he’ll ramp it up. But it’s definitely not a surprise.”
D’Antoni then quipped, “I’m not a doctor, although I studied chemistry some.”
Bryant had gone through a similar process earlier in his rehab.
Shortly after beginning running and shooting drills last month during the Lakers’ preseason trip to China, Bryant scaled back his drills and returned to a weight-bearing treadmill. The Lakers described that decision as a tapering process, and Bryant said he followed that procedure to build more flexibility in his left Achilles tendon.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “If he’s not going to play tomorrow or the next couple of games, I think it’s good for him to get some good practices in and take a step off and let’s see how the Achilles reacts and let it calm down and then pick it back up.”
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