MIAMI - Kobe Bryant had stitches removed from his right index finger Monday, but he sat out most of practice and is expected to miss his seventh straight game when the Lakers play the Heat.
Team trainer Gary Vitti said he removed about 15 stitches from a cut that sent the Los Angeles guard to the injured list Jan. 30.
Bryant, who declined to talk to reporters, took some shots left-handed and worked on ball-handling, coach Phil Jackson said. Jackson said chances are slim Bryant will play Tuesday in the sixth game of the Lakers’ seven-game trip.
In place of Bryant against Miami, rookie Luke Walton may make his second career start, Jackson said.
Bryant was expected to rejoin the team last Thursday in Philadelphia but failed to show. He waited until Saturday to report in Orlando but won’t be fined, Jackson said.
“We just wanted him to be with this team prior to him starting to play,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t critical that he had to show up. He got the flu during the first of the week, so we made that exception.”
Guard Gary Payton, is in his first year with the Lakers, said Bryant has been upbeat since rejoining the team.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen him where he’s really energetic, he’s really acting like he’s happy and he’s really spirited,” Payton said. “It’s been good to see him like that for the last couple of days.”
Bryant awaits trial in a sexual assault case in Colorado and is struggling through a sub-par season. Because of the finger injury, a sprained right shoulder and a sore right knee, he has missed 13 of the first 48 games.
Team spokeswoman Alison Bogli said Bryant’s finger remains stiff and tender with a limited range of motion. Bryant said the injury occurred when he put his hand through a glass window trying to move boxes in his garage.
PBT: The Pacers defeated the Heat 97-93 in Game 2 to even the series at 1-1, which now shifts to Indiana.
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