The Lakers will be in Sacramento tonight without Kobe Bryant for the team’s 19th game of the season. Bryant participated in all three practices this week without any setbacks, but still isn’t fully ready to go — but he’s working on it.
“I’m trying. We have to see how it feels tonight,” said Bryant to media after Thursday’s practice We’ll try to get another hard session, and then tomorrow we’ll try to push it again. Same thing tomorrow evening.”
Bryant will not make the trip to Sacramento with the team, but will have personal workouts — a morning and evening session — in Los Angeles in to try to try and get some more mobility in his left ankle and Achilles.
“The ankle joint, that’s the thing that’s been restricted for so long,” Bryant said when asked about what’s been holding him back. “You’re talking about months of immobility, so you got to work through that a little bit. There’s still some scar tissue in there that needs to be broken up. That’s done through movement and therapy and mobilizations.”
With that, Sunday is still within the realm of possibility for Bryant, as it’s the first of a two-game home stretch before the Lakers hit the road for a four-game road trip which begins in Oklahoma City. Sunday’s game is against the Toronto Raptors — a team that he’s had considerable success against in the past. Bryant’s second highest career scoring average is against the Raptors (28.3 ppg) and, of course, had his legendary 81-point game against the club.
Mike D’Antoni told reporters that Bryant has seemed fine during all practices this week, and expects Bryant back with the team soon. When asked how long until Bryant returns, he said, “I think days.”
Bryant was “pleased” with how he felt after practice today, but also said that he and the training staff want to make sure to “get it right the first time.” Neither Bryant or the Lakers want a situation that sees him missing more games after his return due to setbacks after game play.
While Bryant is right on the cusp of returning, there still isn’t a return date as it’s something that the organization is going to evaluate on a day-to-day basis. Bryant’s return could be Sunday, but it could also be in a week from now. The Lakers and Bryant are practicing patience in hopes that Bryant’s practices can move to game play.
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