Kobe Bryant ready to play on injured ankle
Kobe Bryant sat in the stands inside the New Orleans Arena wearing dark sunglasses, just close enough to hear Lakers Coach Phil Jackson talk about the status of his All-Star guard for Thursday night's Game 6.
Bryant had declined to speak with the media about his sprained left ankle, but Jackson did talk about how his star would be limited in the game against the New Orleans Hornets.
"There's limitation on what he can do, obviously, but he tries to overcome," Jackson said at the team's shoot-around. "He's still a guy that's working on not 100%."
Bryant injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Sunday but played in Game 5 Tuesday night at Staples Center, helping the Lakers open a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.
Bryant played 29 minutes in Game 5 on the injured ankle, but Jackson wouldn't hesitate to play him more in Game 6.
"It's a matter of where his physical well-being is going to be with the ankle," Jackson said. "It's not whether he plays 28 minutes or 38 minutes. That obviously is going to put a little more stress on the ankle, but I think he can play 40 minutes tonight if he has to."
Jackson said they hoped to close out the series against the Hornets on Thursday night not so much to get some rest but so they don't prolong the series.
"These games are full of physical contact," Jackson said, "and there's plenty of things that can happen that take teams out of their rhythm, take players out of the game."
-- Broderick Turner, reporting from New Orleans
Photo: Lakers Kobe Bryant grimaces after injuring his ankle against he Hornets in Game 4 of the NBA playoffs in New Orleans Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times