In the third quarter of Tuesday night’s loss in San Antonio, Kobe Bryant’s back stiffened up on him to the point that he could barely walk, which kept him – reluctantly – on the shelf for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
Yet Bryant, determined to play against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, awoke at 5 a.m. to begin working his back into game-ready shape.
“I think he’s going to give it a try,” said Phil Jackson. “He’s spent all day trying to get himself ready for the game.”
Jackson explained that even if Bryant is hurting, he won’t necessarily remove him from the game if he’s still helping the team. If the team play is suffering due to Bryant’s back, however, he’ll likely come out.
“If he hurts our effort on the floor, you have to (remove) him as a coach,” said the head coach. “I didn’t like the way he was moving in the third quarter, but he was helping us play better as we went through that quarter.”
Jackson was also asked if he’d consider holding Bryant out for an extended period of time due to his various ailments.
“I don’t see why, unless he’s hurting the team out there and it would be a long-term situation where if he played now it would affect him five, 10 games down the line,” he explained. “I just don’t see that happening.”
In other injury news…
- Sasha Vujacic, who tweaked his hamstring against San Antonio, would play at the two guard in Bryant’s place, with Shannon Brown next on Jackson’s list after the Slovenian.
- Ron Artest, who’s battling finger and foot injuries, will start.
- Luke Walton (back) is again available, hoping to play as many minute as Phil Jackson allows.
- Adam Morrison, who suffered from a sore throat and flu-like symptoms yesterday, is feeling better and could play.