Kobe hopes to be in clear after strong Monday practice

Updated: October 30, 2006, 9:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant wouldn't say Monday if he'll play in the Lakers' regular-season opener against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant
Bryant

The Lakers practiced Monday at Staples Center and Bryant participated in much of the session. He has been recovering from right knee surgery and didn't play in any of the Lakers' preseason games.

"I really don't know yet," Bryant told ESPN The Magazine's Sam Alipour. "We had a great practice today [Monday], where I was moving well. I was exploding, I was jumping and dunking. And I felt good.

"I just pray that tomorrow [Tuesday] morning I'll wake up, go through the shootaround, and I won't be sore. If I'm not, I'm in the clear."

On Saturday, Bryant told Lakers coach Phil Jackson that he'd be available to play.

"He says he's going to play on Tuesday," Jackson said. "There's a disclaimer that he's doubtful. I'm sure that he'll make the correct decision. He came off the floor and he was sore, but he was on the court for a good hour and a half before he came off."

Jackson said the Lakers are prepared whether Bryant plays or not. Maurice Evans is the likely starter if Bryant sits.

Jackson, who underwent right hip-replacement surgery earlier this month, said he would coach the opener Tuesday night. He missed all the team's preseason games.

He used a cane at practice and said he has a ways to go to be mobile and active. Jackson said Saturday it's possible that he might not make the trip to Golden State on Wednesday for the Lakers' second game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.