Kobe has yet to play in preseason

Updated: October 17, 2003, 3:21 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Beleaguered Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will not play Friday night against the Phoenix Suns, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Bryant did not play against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Thursday night, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that Bryant could see some action against Phoenix.

"I haven't ruled out tomorrow for Kobe, depending on how feels," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I think he could play five minutes, seven minutes, something like that."

After returning from Eagle, Colo., after the end of a preliminary hearing in his sexual assault case, Bryant was excused from the team's morning shootaround Thursday. He was not available for comment before the game against the Cavs -- the Lakers' fourth game of the preseason.

Bryant has not taken part in full practices or scrimmages while recovering from knee surgery. He said he lost 15 pounds during the offseason, mostly from stress, and his conditioning will be a factor when he eventually returns to the court.

Friday night's matchup with the Suns will be the final preseason game at Staples Center. Jackson had hoped to get Bryant onto the court in a non-hostile environment.

"It's kind of good to get him into a public arena in a situation where there's a game-type situation against other NBA players," Jackson said.

The Lakers' final three preseason games will be played in Bakersfield, Anaheim and Las Vegas. They open the regular season Oct. 28 at home against the Dallas Mavericks.

Shaquille O'Neal (bruised heel) also sat out against Cleveland. Jackson said he did not know when O'Neal would be ready to play.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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