Kobe downplays swelling in knee, says 'I feel fine'

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant was held out of the Lakers' preseason game Thursday night because of residual swelling in his right knee following a collision with teammate Josh Powell on Tuesday night against Charlotte.

"I've got a little bit of puffiness in the back of the knee. It's just from the trauma of landing the way I landed," Bryant said about an hour before his teammates beat the Bobcats 88-77. "So we'll just knock that out and make sure the swelling's out of there, which should be soon. Then I'm OK. After seeing the injury on TV, I'm surprised it's not worse, to be honest."

Bryant, the NBA's reigning MVP, was injured under Los Angeles' basket in the second quarter when he went for a rebound and banged knees with Powell.

"I feel fine," Bryant said. "I lifted weights this morning for my legs, did lunges, jumps and all that kind of stuff, and I felt fine. I felt strong. So I'm all right. I just want to get the swelling out. Instead of playing on it tonight and having the swelling still be there and having to manage it. I mean, that's stuff you do during the regular season -- not in preseason."

Bryant hopes to play Friday night in the preseason finale against Oklahoma City at Ontario, Calif., and coach Phil Jackson hasn't ruled out that possibility. But Jackson said it Bryant can't go, the club may talk with Bryant about having some diagnostic tests done on the knee. The 10-time All-Star chose not to undergo an MRI exam.

"If I can run, if I can jump, if I can do lunges, leg curls and leg extensions, chances are there's no structural damage," Bryant said, grinning. "You know what I'm saying? If I don't have to walk with more of a bop that I normally walk with, it's fine. So I'm good. There's no need to waste their money."

Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, who has yet to play in the preseason because of an avulsion fracture in his left ankle, wants to get some minutes in the preseason finale. He was examined by a foot specialist Thursday.

"It feels better," said Vujacic, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract on July 28. "There's no sharp pain, but it's still a little bit irritated. I just have to face it and play with it. Tomorrow I'm going to do the full practice and then we go from there. I'm going to be there and I'm going to be in uniform, which I'm excited about. But if the coach doesn't play me, that's not my decision. We'll see."

Powell missed the game Thursday because of a strained left hamstring.