- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
"It's sore," Bryant said, conducting his postgame interview in the training room area of the visitor's locker room at New Orleans Arena rather than at the podium for the televised press conference. "It just rolled over. It's been weeks since I hurt it last and when it happens, when you roll your ankle once, it's easy to go and it just went."
He expects to play in Tuesday's pivotal Game 5 as the series heads back to Staples Center tied 2-2.
"I should play," Bryant said. "It's going to take a lot to stop me from playing.
"I'm concerned, as I am about any injury, but I've played through so many of them it kind of becomes old hat for me."
The injury occurred late in the fourth quarter while Bryant was defending Hornets guard Willie Green. He turned his ankle over and fell into Green, causing a foul.
The Lakers initially subbed in Shannon Brown for Bryant during Green's free throws but then called timeout with 1:32 remaining, assuring Bryant did not miss any game time. Lakers coach Phil Jackson swapped Brown for Bryant once more for from 1:02 remaining until 45.6 seconds remaining for defensive purposes.
Bryant came into the game on the Lakers injury list as playing with a sprained left ankle already.
A little more than five weeks ago, playing against the Dallas Mavericks on March 12, Bryant suffered what he described as the "scariest" ankle sprain of his 15-year career, but he played through it, not missing any games.
Bryant said that the sprain feels different than the one he had against Dallas, however.
"It's more my foot," Bryant said. "It's not really my ankle. It's my foot ... I don't really hurt that too often, so, it's a little different for me."
Bryant finished Friday's game with 17 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He was held scoreless in the first half, going 0-for-7, however. It was the first scoreless half in a playoff game for Bryant since May 25, 2004 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bryant left the arena on crutches.
The Lakers flew back to Los Angeles on Sunday night. Lakers spokesman John Black said the team would determine whether Bryant will need an MRI on Monday during the three and a half hour flight.
"We'll do treatment the whole flight, just make sure we stay on top of it," Bryant said.
Bryant said the pressurized cabin in the plane makes dealing with the swelling more difficult.
"Maybe I should drive back," Bryant joked.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
17hAlok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information
22hOhm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley
18hDan Le Batard