During the 15 minutes that the media was allowed see the team practice, Bryant shot around before the start of practice as his teammates stretched and once it commenced he joined in on 5-0n-0 drills.
This another step in the right direction for Bryant,who the day prior took part in 30-45 minutes of full-court scrimmaging.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni was impressed with what Bryant did on Tuesday enough so to make Friday’s road game against the Sacramento Kings a possibility, but he is still not making it a certainty with another practice still scheduled this week.
“He’ll go full blown today and will see how he feels tomorrow, then Friday looks good,” D’Antoni said. “but we don’t know that for sure.”
Along with the visual evidence of Bryant’s performance on the court in practice D’Antoni stated he will still need to hold discussions with the Lakers’ training staff before a decision can be made on when he can actual play in a game.
“Just talking with [Lakers trainer Gary Vitti] will talk with doctors and talk with Kobe and let me know if there’s restrictions or if it’s better for him to play in short bursts or longer. That will be decided probably the day of the game.”
The 15-time All-Star was described as “looking good” on the court Tuesday and was described by D’Antoni as being able to do “everything” during practice. Although that is good news, the Lakers will have to continue to be patient with Bryant as he is only eight months removed from an injury that very few players have been able to come back from.
Nonetheless there is an excitement in the air around the team.
“I think anticipation but not nervous,” D’Antoni said of Bryant’s imminent return. “I am looking forward to it.”
Lakers center Pau Gasol also echoed the same sentiment, but at the same wants his teammate to return when he feels that he is ready.
“I am looking forward to (Wednesday’s) practice. I hope he can do as much as he did yesterday by continuing to make progress in the right direction, and move closer to playing,” Gasol said. “I (just) don’t want him to go until he’s comfortable and confident in playing and doing whatever he needs to do out there.”
“We don’t want him to play Friday if he’s not ready to play. We don’t want him to play Sunday if he’s not ready to play Sunday. Just whenever he comes and plays, I (just) want him to play when he is ready.”
After practicing for 10 minutes with the team on Tuesday, D’Antoni stated that Nash will practice 10-15 minutes on Wednesday. As for when he expects his the two-time NBA MVP to return, he once again stated it would be very unlikely that the 39-year-old would play in Friday’s game and added that his timetable for return is “probably be a bit longer than Kobe.”
With it appearing that Bryant may make his return much sooner than Nash to go along with Jordan Farmar out for at least the next month due his torn left hamstring, D’Antoni stated that he will likely play the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer at the point guard position. Bryant in Wednesday’s practice in front of the media participated in 5-on-0 drills with Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill, and Gasol.
“Kobe will play some point guard because (Jordan) Farmar’s status and Steve Nash’s status,” D’Antoni said. “Obviously if Kobe is playing point (guard) here (in practice) then he will do it in a game.”
In other Lakers’ injury news, Blake for the second straight practice continued to shoot the ball with his left hand as he is still dealing with a hyper-extended right elbow.
Photo Credit: Noah Graham/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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