Phil Jackson says he will determine Kobe Bryant's playing time in season opener during game
With Kobe Bryant continuing rehab on his surgically repaired right knee, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he remains flexible on how much he'll play him during the team's season opener Tuesday against Houston.
"We'll see how it goes," Jackson said Monday after practice at the team's facility in El Segundo. "I just talked to him, and he said he's comfortable playing over 30 minutes. We'll see how it goes in the course of a game."
Bryant didn't speak to reporters after Monday's practice, but he described his knee as "good" after Sunday's practice and replied "sure" with a hint of sarcasm when asked if he could play 40 minutes.
Bryant's rehabilitation efforts coincided with a limited preseason during which he scored 12.6 points on 28.2% shooting, 17.2% from three-point range as well as three assists in 21.6 minutes per contest. He also sat out in the Lakers' 120-99 victory Thursday over the Golden State Warriors in San Diego. Though he progressively improved in terms of mobility and rhythm, Bryant's seven for eight third-quarter effort in the Lakers' 99-94 loss Oct. 17 to the Utah Jazz served as the small bright shot in an otherwise poor shooting effort.
With Bryant likely matching up against lockdown defender Shane Battier, the Lakers' opener against Houston should provide a revealing glimpse on how much progression Bryant needs to make to return to full form.
"We're as prepared as we can be at this particular time," Jackson said. "Obviously we don't have Andrew [Bynum] and Kobe's coming off a situation which limited his participation ... This is OK. We know that this is part of getting ready for the season and we'll have members of our team back and ready in a couple of weeks."
In other news, Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff both practiced Tuesday and are expected to play. They both missed the Lakers' preseason finale in a 105-102 overtime win Friday over the Golden State Warriors, with Odom nursing a sore left thumb, tight back and hurt nose and Ratliff suffering a swollen left knee.
-- Mark Medina
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