Kobe Bryant will be game-time decision
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers received a scare Saturday night in Dallas, when Kobe Bryant landed awkwardly on his left ankle with 1:52 remaining in the third quarter, re-aggravating an injury suffered two games prior in Atlanta and sending him limping to the locker room for evaluation.
He returned in the fourth quarter, but the injury, which he called a sprain, put his availability for Monday's game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center in question.
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Sunday's practice provided no answers, as Bryant didn't speak with reporters after arriving at the team's training facility for treatment. He will be re-evaluated Monday. In the meantime, his status remains the same.
"He'll be a game-time decision. We hope he'll be able to play," coach Phil Jackson said.
Bryant, averaging a team-high 25 points along with 4.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds, has played in all 67 of his team's games this year.
The Lakers have three days off following their date with the Magic before facing Minnesota at home Friday night. Jackson indicated the break wouldn't influence any decision about Bryant's availability Monday night.
"It would be great to have him have [extra] days off to get better, but if he's capable of playing, he'll play," Jackson said.
Last season, Bryant missed nine games with a variety of ailments. In his absence, the Lakers went 6-3, including wins against Portland, San Antonio, and Utah, along with narrow losses to Denver and Boston.
Asked what they did well without him in the lineup, Jackson replied, "We ran our offense. It's that simple."
Saturday, Bryant said his initial thoughts about the injury were grim.
"I thought I was done, like done," Bryant said, describing the sprain as the scariest of his career. "I was just praying that when I stood up my foot was lined up straight. ... That scared the s--- out of me. I thought I dislocated it.
"We were all pretty scared ... to be honest with you because it looked horrible and it felt worse."
Bryant returned to the bench, and indicated to Jackson he was able to go.
"I asked him if he wanted to play. But he was there, and he said 'Yeah, I'm here to play,'" Jackson said Sunday. "He got back out there and helped us win it, but he was moving less than 100 percent."
Should Kobe be forced out of Monday's game, Jackson indicated it might not be the worst thing for him or the team.
"The big thing about Kobe last year is he played through a lot of injuries and then sat out for six games, and I thought it helped him out overall," he said.
Jackson also expressed concern for small forward Matt Barnes, who returned to action March 6 after missing 26 games following surgery on his right knee. Barnes seemed to tweak the knee against Dallas. He was on the floor for a light workout for the team Sunday afternoon, but Jackson couldn't say for sure Barnes would be available against the Magic.
"I don't think [he'll miss the game], but we really haven't felt comfortable all the way around with this," Jackson said. "It's like a day-to-day thing with him, still. [An injury suffered stretching before playing Charlotte March 5] puts him out, then he sat out a practice because he was feeling some residual pain from the Miami game. So we're still not out of the woods on this one, yet."
Brian Kamenetzky writes the Land O'Lakers Blog for ESPNLosAngeles.com. ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.