Before tonight’s game, Phil Jackson said it looks like Kobe will play despite straining his groin, surprising the coaching staff with successful pre-game workouts. Jackson said he put Bryant through defensive slides to test the groin since that exercise is a good indicator of the extent to which Bryant’s lateral movement is affected.
Tonight’s match-up with the inner city rival Los Angeles Clippers marks the first time the Lakers will see Clippers center Chris Kaman this season. Jackson said that Kaman always seems to play well against the Lakers, complimenting his work ethic and good hands. According to the Lakers coach, injured forward Elton Brand deserves some of the credit for Kaman’s breakout season as Chris is often overshadowed by the perennial All-Star when the two are on the floor together.
Although Jackson is not one to look ahead in the schedule, Jackson cited the Lakers’ momentum heading into their four game stint back east as a critical factor in predicting the team’s success on the road trip. Jackson said his previous team, the Chicago Bulls, are notorious for slow November’s, highlighting their success in December. The Bulls, like the Cavaliers — another opponent the Lakers will play on the trip — have been hindered by injuries and slow starts, but have recently shown signs of returning to form.
INJURY UPDATE: Jackson said that injured center Kwame Brown will not fly out on the trip for the Lakers.