Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Kobe Bryant plays in Game 5
By Dave McMenamin ESPNLosAngeles.com
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant played in Game 5 of the team's first-round series against the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday.
He scored 19 points in 28 minutes as the Lakers won 106-90 for a 3-2 series lead.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson made the announcement prior to tip-off.
"I think the questionable thing is, how well can he play? Can he help his team when he's on the floor? Do we stay with him if he doesn't help the team because he can be a liability on the defensive end? Will they attack him? All of those things are part of the picture and I'm going to have to make some decisions around that as the game goes on," Jackson said before the game.
Bryant still hasn't had his sprained left ankle further examined through X-rays or an MRI, according to Jackson.
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"If he knows that it's just a minor injury, if he knows his body that well, yeah, I think it's OK," Jackson said.
"It's something I think he can live with and we can."
The Lakers training staff evaluated Bryant at Staples Center prior to the game.
Bryant was limited at shootaround and Jackson was unsure of what capacity the back-to-back Finals MVP would be at come tip-off.
"He came out on the court and did some things with the ball, but it wasn't like a shootaround. It was more of a comfort zone," Jackson said.
When asked if Bryant ever explored further diagnostic tests on the ankle on Monday evening, Jackson said, "Not that I'm aware."
Bryant did not speak to reporters, but teammate Ron Artest downplayed the impact Bryant's ankle will have on his game.
"He's going to be fine. Kobe's Kobe," Artest said. "It's not even an issue because Kobe's Kobe. He's going to come and play."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.