After resting for five days to treat his sore right shoulder, Kobe Bryant offered six encouraging words to coach Byron Scott. It all related to Bryant’s availability when the Lakers (14-54) host the Phoenix Suns (18-50) on Friday at Staples Center.
“‘I think I can play tonight,'” Scott reported Bryant telling him. “As of right now, I think he’ll play.”
Scott still likened the odds of Bryant playing at “75-25,” a slight increase from the 50-50 chances Scott has given his star player in recent days. But Scott still held out enough optimism that Bryant will play between 25 to 28 minutes. Metta World Peace and Larry Nance Jr. will play minutes at the backup small forward spot.
Bryant has sat in five of the past nine games, including Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. Meanwhile, Lakers reserve forward Brandon Bass will also return after a one-game absence because of a corneal abrasion in his right eye.
But Bass received clearance after having an eye exam on Friday morning. Then, Bass learned he would not have to wear protective goggles as Lakers trainer Gary Vitti had hoped. Bass wore goggles during Thursday’s practice only to destroy them a few plays into a scrimmage because of discomfort.
“After he broke the one pair, he didn’t put the other one on,” Scott said of Bass. “I have a feeling tonight he’ll play without goggles.”