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Lakers maintain optimism about playing status of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum


An official word is far from definitive. But the Lakers enter Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers expecting both Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum will suit up.

Bryant sat out of practice Saturday in favor of treatment for his sprained left ankle and a stiff neck after he accidentally knocked heads with Minnesota's Martell Webster late in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 106-98 victory Friday over the Timberwolves. Despite Phil Jackson's revelation after the game that he would talk to Bryant about whether he would scale back his minutes or even ask him to sit, Jackson conceded after Saturday's practice he didn't address Bryant's playing status against Portland and that it remains a game-time decision.

"He's doing OK today," Jackson said of Bryant, who observed the Lakers' defensive schemes in practice. "He has a stiff neck. Obviously he's working with a stiff ankle."

Bynum's playing status also remains in question, although it has little to do with anything surrounding his surgically repaired right knee. The NBA hasn't contacted the Lakers about whether Bynum's flagrant foul, type 2 on Minnesota forward Michael Beasley will earn him a suspension. Since they haven't been told otherwise, the Lakers are assuming Bynum won't face consequences for leveling Beasley with his right forearm with 6:16 remaining.

"Either they go home or else they'll give us a call," Jackson said.

Neither Bryant nor Bynum spoke with reporters afterward, so it was up to their teammates to fill in the details.

"He's all right," Lakers forward Ron Artest said of Bryant. "He's not going to complain about nothing. He ain't complaining. He's a warrior."

"It takes a lot for him not to play," Lakers forward Lamar Odom echoed. "He treats his body good. He stayed off of it for most of the practice. It'll take a lot for him not to play."

Although Bryant's health remains the primary concern, there was one development regarding the health of backup center Theo Ratliff, who has appeared in only eight games before having arthroscopic surgery. He participated in two practices this week, including one on Saturday, and Jackson wants him to have a full week of practice before determining his playing status.

Meanwhile, the Lakers reiterated their stance that Bynum's foul on Beasley wasn't a big deal.

"It's a part of the game," Artest said. "That's why you have rules. If they didn't have rules, they'd have to worry about suspensions. But guys play hard and play passionate. It's part of the game."

"We make too much of hard fouls because we're not used to seeing them," Odom said. "Ten or 15 years ago we saw that in every game. Instant replay makes it a little worse. They slow it down."

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected].

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, tries to get around Minnesota forward Kevin Love during the first half of the Lakers' 106-98 victory Friday at Staples Center. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (7)

The comments to this entry are closed.

As a Laker fan, I hope that Bynum doesn't get suspended for the selfish reason that the team needs him to finish with the best record possible. Sunday's game against the Blazers is going to be tough.

But...what he did was dirty and deserves at least a one game suspension. That's not the way to play the game. Hard fouls to discourage layups? Yes! Dirty fouls while not playing the ball? No!

Boy some serious stuff going on in the world right now. The tragedy in japan is heart breaking. Plus Khadafi attacking his own citizens is also a tragedy. But what is interesting is that in helping the libyans obama may be assisting al quaeda. But yall are fortunate to have the priest to entertain yall. Now whats on tv, I think i will watch hgtv tomorrow. Ok they are having a brick laying show starring kobe bryant how about that?

Posted by: island priest | March 19, 2011 at 02:38 PM

Using human tragedy to set up a punch line for a lame joke, kind of shows us all were your compassion level is, your intellect is and your maturity level is. If you are keeping score, thats 3 strikes dude.


Back-in-the-day folks, Bynum's foul happened almost every few plays. Broken ribs and busted up elbows and large contusions were on everyone. No flack pads in those days!

I for one hate this new (W)NBA gentler-than-gradeschool camp Darth Stearn has implemented. Maybe if Rambis or Willis Reed or such was in charge instead of a tiny, weak, lawyer, we could have some fun out there without the refs taking over the games.

You got the WNBA right but it's not Darth Stern.

Herr Stern is more correct.

Media savvy Laker teammates know how to respond to protect Kobe and Drew. Nice professional spin.

I wonder how ppl would respond if kobe was taken out of mid-air with a flying elbow smash to the chest and take a fall like that? The foul was cheap and dirty, Bynum deserves a few game suspension and at least $50,000 fine. Just say NO to GOONS. The sport doesn't need them and shouldn't allow them on the court. LA deserves better don't you think?

I did not see the game, so I will have to take people's word that it was a rough foul. Part of me is glad that Bynum took the hard foul to avoid penetration. In the past, the bigs have let penetrating teams march to rim with ease. From all indications, Beasley was talking alot of smack as well. I hope Beasley is OK, but I don't mind seeing a hard foul, as long as it is not a daily occurance.



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