Kobe Bryant (shoulder) starts for Lakers

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
7:45
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant returned to the starting lineup Saturday against the Utah Jazz after missing the Lakers exhibition game Wednesday night with a strained shoulder.

Lakers center Dwight Howard and forward Jordan Hill remained out with back injuries while Lakers coach Mike Brown said back-up point guard Steve Blake was unlikely to play much if at all Saturday in order to give more playing time to second-year guard Darius Morris and veteran guard Chris Duhon.

"Nothing is wrong with Steve Blake," Brown said. "If he doesn't play, he and I have already talked about it. I'm going to continue to take a look at different combinations. So tonight I'm going to play Darius Morris at some back-up point guards. And I'll probably play somebody else some minutes there the next game."

After participating in practices on Thursday and Friday, Bryant was expected to play Saturday but the Lakers held off making a final decision until game time.

Bryant said he initially hurt the shoulder Tuesday during practice when he dunked over teammate Antawn Jamison.

At the time, he didn't feel pain and finished the practice.

Bryant then spent another 35 minutes on the court working with assistant coach Phil Handy on shooting and ballhandling drills. Later Tuesday night, though, his shoulder swelled up.

"(Tuesday) night it was very painful," Bryant said Wednesday night. "It hurt to even lay down. But it's a lot better right now."

Bryant had surgery on his right shoulder in 2003, but said this injury is completely unrelated to that one and he didn't need an MRI.

Third-year guard Jodie Meeks started in Bryant's place Wednesday and would do so again if he missed another game.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5