Kobe Bryant practices, likes progress
LONDON -- Kobe Bryant remembered to pack his game when the Los Angeles Lakers embarked on an 11-hour plane ride Thursday to begin an eight-day tour through London and Barcelona as a part of the NBA's Europe Live event.
Offseason arthroscopic surgery to Bryant's right knee limited the 15-year veteran's participation to just one practice in the first week of the Lakers' training camp, but Bryant looked sharp in the team's intra-squad scrimmage at the end of practice Saturday at the Crystal Palace Sports Arena.
Bryant scored on an array of jump shots, both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble, snapping the net with both 3-pointers and fadeaways taken inside the paint. He even finished a fastbreak with a pretty ball fake to send the defender sprawling out of the lane and open up a path for Bryant to finish the play with a soft finger roll at the rim.
"It was good to be scrimmaging again," Bryant said. "[The knee] felt more solid than it did the last time [I played]. It was a good development for me."
Bryant reported no pain after practice and despite describing the knee as "a little weak still," said he was "very pleased" with the progress of his health.
The Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday at London's O2 Arena when Bryant is expected to play sparingly, somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-24 minutes according to head coach Phil Jackson.
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"I'm not ready yet [to play a full game]," Bryant said. "I'm getting there, it's a process. Today I felt a lot quicker, but in terms of starting that marathon right now, there's no way."
Said Jackson: "He was OK. He really didn't use any explosiveness at all. He measured his speed, he ran at a certain measured pace, but he looked alright. His shooting was good and it looked like he was in tune with his teammates."
Bryant practiced in warm-up pants, covering any view as to whether he was wearing a brace on the knee or not, but he did wear a finger sleeve on the right index finger that he fractured last season. Bryant previously indicated that he would try to not wear any protection on the finger this season.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.