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Kobe Bryant still on track to play tonight

April 26, 2011 | 12:52 pm

Photo: Kobe Bryant crouches on the floor after injuring his ankle during the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Hornets. Credit: Derick E. Hingle / US Presswire
The Lakers are tied with New Orleans, somewhat shockingly, going into Game 5 of the first-round playoff series Tuesday at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant will be playing, though, despite a sprained left ankle.

"He's very hopeful," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Tuesday afternoon. "He came out on the court and did some things with the ball."

Jackson did not specify how well Bryant was able to cut or run. He did not go through a full shoot-around, Jackson said.

Bryant hasn't talked to reporters since the aftermath of Game 4 on Sunday. He left the arena on crutches that night.

He was injured when his ankle rolled under him while he defended Willie Green toward the end of Game 4.

Ron Artest had no doubt about Bryant's ability to play in Game 5.

"He's going to be fine. Kobe's Kobe," Artest said. "I've seen him play with a broken hand in the playoffs last year. He couldn't shoot [with a] broken finger.

"He came back in the game [Sunday] and attacked and made a good pass to Pau [Gasol]."

Bryant still hasn't undergone an MRI exam or X-rays, despite the team's wishes. He will be checked by trainers before the game, Jackson said. It probably will be a brief exam.

-- Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Kobe Bryant crouches on the floor after injuring his ankle during the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Hornets. Credit: Derick E. Hingle / US Presswire


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