Lakers 3-1 without Bryant

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant was off crutches Friday for the
first time since spraining his right ankle, but remained uncertain
when he will be able to play for the Lakers again.

Asked if he might be ready to go when Los Angeles hosts San
Antonio on Feb. 3, Bryant replied, "That will be a fun one.
Hopefully, I'll have a couple of games under my belt."

Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich noted Bryant's arrival.

"I saw him sliding in here. It wasn't an even gait, but he was
without crutches, so that's progress," Tomjanovich said.

Bryant hurt his ankle in the first quarter of the Lakers' win
over Cleveland on Jan. 13, and initially was expected to be
sidelined for at least two weeks.

A couple of hours before Los Angeles' game against Golden State
on Friday night, Bryant was on the court, shooting some baskets
from the bench and even taking -- and making a few -- left-handed
shots from halfcourt while holding his injured right foot off the

"I can put pressure on it, but can't push off on it yet,"
Bryant said. "But I'm getting there. It felt great. You know how
much I love the game, so it felt good just to be out there.

"When I first came back in locker room when I hurt it, I
couldn't even take the shoe off. It was that bad. Now I'm at the
point where it can bear weight, so we're turning the corner pretty

His teammates, who defeated Golden State 105-101 on Friday night, are 3-1 since he went down. Bryant didn't seem surprised they've picked up
the slack.

"I said from the beginning that I had no doubt that we'd step
up to the plate. The attitude, the atmosphere around here, it's
confidence, that swagger that we have," he said before the game. "When we compete
in practice, I'm running my mouth all the time talking trash,
challenging players.

"What happens when you're constantly on the edge, challenging,
when a challenge is presented, it's second nature. You just step up
to the plate."

He sees his absence as a growing experience for his teammates.

"When I'm in there, they defer to me so much, to the point
where they don't feel comfortable," Bryant said. "So when I get
back, they'll have the confidence they can make those big shots,
not like they'll have to come to me every time."