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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Kobe back after missing five games

ESPN.com

Kobe Bryant's 18-day layoff, a stretch that included five missed games, came to an end Tuesday as he rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup in Memphis.

And boy did he have an impact.

Bryant, who hasn't played since Feb. 5 because of a sprained left ankle and strained tendon in his left leg, scored 32 points, including a 3-pointer with four seconds left to give the Lakers a 99-98 win.

The 14-year veteran declared he'd be "good to go" after the Lakers practiced Monday. Bryant said that strength still remained an issue in the ankle, but overall, "it's healthy."

"Where I'm at now, I feel confident about playing and while I play getting to 100 percent," Bryant said Monday. "It's about probably 80-85 [percent] right now and the rest of the percentage is made up just through strength."

Los Angeles went 4-1 with Bryant out of the lineup. The loss came down to the final possession against Boston.

Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.