For once, the Lakers offered a glowing report about Kobe Bryant’s health without couching the prognosis with caution.
“He’s fine,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said with a smile after morning shootaround on Sunday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo.
A few hours later, that is far from the case. The Lakers ruled Kobe Bryant out for Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, and the reason has nothing to do with the sore right shoulder that kept him out of three games last week. Instead, the Lakers said Bryant has a right Achilles strain. Scott said Bryant had alerted him he felt some pain in his right Achilles in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against Oklahoma City before continuing to play. Bryant had surgery on his left Achilles tendon two years ago.
“I totally forgot he had mentioned that,” said Scott, who was then reminded later Sunday afternoon by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. “It didn’t even cross my mind today. He shrugged and said, ‘I’m okay.'”
Meanwhile, the Lakers also ruled out forward Brandon Bass, who was diagnosed diagnosed with a corneal abrasion in his right eye after it was poked in Friday’s game against Oklahoma City. D’Angelo Russell also won’t play with Scott reporting he has had trouble planting and cutting.
Lakers rookie forward Anthony Brown will start in Bryant’s place, while Scott said he will feature “different faces” in only a 10-man rotation. Lakers forwards Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly also won’t be available because they were recently assigned to the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate.