EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Lakers fans can rest easy. Kobe Bryant’s right knee was a bit sore Wednesday, but the injury isn’t serious and it’s possible he won’t miss any playing time.
“I’m all right, a little bit better today, a better mood, anyway,” Bryant said after sitting out practice due to the hyperextended right knee he suffered Tuesday night in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 102-98 preseason victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in San Diego.
Wearing an ice bag on his knee, Bryant said he felt a lot better about his injury Wednesday morning.
“There was no swelling,” he said. “At that point, I knew I was OK. Some injuries can go either way. You’ve got to get lucky. I didn’t sleep much, to be honest with you. Just moving it around, seeing if it was all right. These type of injuries kind of sneak up on you.”
Bryant, the reigning NBA MVP, was injured under the Lakers’ basket when he banged knees with teammate Josh Powell while going for a rebound. He immediately signaled to the bench that he was hurt, and a timeout was called. Bryant then sat at the end of the bench before walking to the locker room, and didn’t return for the second half.
“I saw the ring flash before my eyes,” Bryant said. “I was pretty worried. That’s the scariest part, sitting there for five or 10 minutes, seeing what’s going to develop.”
Powell said he didn’t feel anything.
“I didn’t see him until I turned around. I turned around, saw him jumping up and down. I thought he rolled his ankle,” Powell said.
“It was all his fault,” Bryant said with a smile. “We just happened to run into each other.”
The 30-year-old Bryant, examined Wednesday by trainer Gary Vitti, won’t see a doctor or have an MRI. He said he hopes to play Thursday night when the Lakers face the Bobcats again, this time in Anaheim.
“If I can go, I can go,” Bryant said. “It’s all good.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he wouldn’t talk Bryant out of playing.
“We always like players to go out and play,” the coach said. “That’s what they do. It gives us a chance to go out and function on the floor.”
While Jackson said he wasn’t too concerned, he added: “Seeing this injury over the course of my career, it’s an injury you can’t minimize at all. It could have some lingering effects. We’ll see how it is tomorrow. We kind of go day-to-day in this business.”
Notes: The Lakers requested waivers on Joe Crawford and forward CJ Giles, reducing their roster to the opening-day maximum of 15. Crawford, the 58th overall pick in the NBA draft last June after playing four seasons at Kentucky, averaged 2.8 points in six preseason games. Giles, a free agent who played for Oregon State last season, averaged 2.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in four preseason games.
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