Guard hopes to end 5-game absence
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant hopes to return from his five-game absence because of a strained tendon in his left leg and sprained left ankle in Memphis when the Lakers play the Grizzlies on Tuesday.
Bryant practiced Saturday for the first time since Feb. 15 and when asked what he learned from the session he said, "I got that I'm able to play."
"Today it felt very, very good," Bryant said. "I can jump, I can drive, push off [and] I can get to the basket. It's just a matter of now of how it feels tomorrow, I guess."
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers don't practice Sunday but Bryant will undergo personal training to test the ankle again.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson wasn't as enthusiastic about Bryant's practice, taking more of a wait-and-see approach.
"He looked alright," Jackson said. "He was measured.
"It's all about how he recovers strength wise. He was complaining about the fact that he didn't get good elevation and didn't get good lift. He got a couple spaces out here where he did some things to try it out and how to feel the recovery afterwards."
Bryant said: "It's still a little sore at certain points but it went away. It didn't linger or anything like that. I was able to move and do pretty much anything I wanted."
The Lakers went 4-1 without Bryant. The next game Bryant plays will be the 1,000th of his career, a feat Derek Fisher accomplished on Feb. 10 against Utah, the third game that Bryant missed.
"Fisher beat me to it," Bryant said about the career milestone. "It's lost its competitive luster. If I knew, I would have just limped through the game."
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Bryant also said Luke Walton suggested he dress in uniform and sit on the bench in the future, even if he is hurt, so the team has the option of putting him in for the final shot. Los Angeles lost to Boston on Thursday, 87-86, when Fisher's 20-footer at the buzzer came up short.
"If it comes down to that situation [Walton said] we'll just send you in like Mariano Rivera and just finish the game," Bryant said. "That's the best solution I've heard."
Bryant said he would wait until Sunday to make a definitive call of whether he'll play or not, but it sounded like the Lakers guard had already made up his mind.
"[The ankle] should be [ready to play on Tuesday] ... If it's not, I'm firing everybody," Bryant joked. "It's been long enough."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com