Lakers' Cook sprains ankle, McKie has back spasms

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The season opener is less than two weeks away, and the Los Angeles Lakers' injury problems are getting worse.

Brian Cook and Aaron McKie were the latest Lakers to be injured, and it's possible neither will play in Thursday night's exhibition game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

Cook was hurt during warmups before Tuesday night's 96-91 loss to Sacramento in Las Vegas, sustaining a mild sprain of his left ankle. He played anyway, getting 12 points and nine rebounds, but is listed as questionable for Thursday night's game.

McKie left with back spasms in the opening 90 seconds of Tuesday night's game and saw a back specialist Wednesday. He was ruled out of the game against the Clippers.

"It certainly puts a damper on things," Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said after practice Wednesday. "We obviously want everybody back healthy. We want everybody to have as many days as possible, as many games as possible to develop togetherness."

Rambis is filling in for coach Phil Jackson, who had hip replacement surgery Oct. 3. Jackson is expected to be on the bench Oct. 31 when the Lakers open the season against Phoenix.

Kobe Bryant (offseason knee surgery) and Chris Mihm (offseason ankle surgery) haven't played in the exhibition season.

Kwame Brown (sprained right shoulder), Shammond Williams (abdominal muscle strain) and Von Wafer (bruised left heel) are also hurting and probably won't play against the Clippers.

Vladimir Radmanovic has played despite a sprained right hand and Lamar Odom despite a bruised right shin. Sasha Vujacic missed two games because of a strained muscle in his left foot before playing Tuesday night. All three are expected to play against the Clippers.

"Guys have to step up and play," Rambis said. "They have to cover the holes that we have in our roster right now. It also gives guys an opportunity to show us what they can do so it can educate us to about what their capabilities are. So it's an opportunity for players.

"But realistically, if we don't get everybody back, it does put a little bit of a hole in our growth process," Rambis said.

Bryant said he did what he called more "explosive movements" at practice Wednesday but isn't ready to go quite yet. He has said repeatedly that he should be ready when the regular season starts but would like to play in at least one exhibition game.

"I would love to have one, definitely, just to kind of get the kinks out a little bit, get a game under your belt," he said. "That would help tremendously. Hopefully, I'll have one."

Brown said if he doesn't play against the Clippers, he hopes to play Friday night when the Lakers face either New Orleans or Golden State, who meet in the opener of Thursday night's doubleheader. Mihm said that while he's been making progress, he's not ready to play yet.