Kobe Bryant has torn wrist ligament

Updated: December 22, 2011, 12:44 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has a torn wrist ligament and did not play in Wednesday night's 108-103 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers have listed Bryant's status as day to day.

"It was mine and Kobe's and the doctor's decision to sit him tonight, but if tonight was a playoff game, maybe [he could play]," coach Mike Brown said during his pregame remarks. "It's a preseason game."

Jason Kapono started at shooting guard in Bryant's place.

Bryant suffered the right wrist injury, his shooting hand, in the Lakers' 114-95 loss to the Clippers on Monday when he fell to the floor in the third quarter after having his shot attempt blocked by DeAndre Jordan.

Bryant was examined by Dr. Steven Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday.

Results show that Bryant has a torn lunotriquetral ligament. The lunotriquetral ligament is a band of tissue that connects bones in the wrist.

"These are tiny little ligaments that keep the multiple bones in your wrist together so that you have movement as well as stability," Dr. Robert Klapper, an orthopaedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group, told 710 ESPN Los Angeles' "Max & Marcellus Show."

The Lakers opening game is just four days away against the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.

"I can't speak to Sunday," Brown said after the team's morning shootaround. "He may practice [Thursday], he may not. I'll have a better feel soon."

Added Brown before the game: "Come Sunday, we'll see how it is. ... There's a chance he can play Sunday."

Bryant was on the floor and wearing a plastic protective brace on his wrist before Wednesday's game. He declined comment when asked about his availability for the season opener. Bryant said he didn't know if the wrist was experiencing any swelling because it was covered up by the brace all day.

The Lakers will already be missing one starter against the Bulls, as center Andrew Bynum is suspended for the first five games of the season because of a hit he made on J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals last spring.

Bryant practiced with the injury on Tuesday but did not participate in Wednesday's shootaround after continuing to experience pain on the top portion of his hand.

"He came up to me [at practice] and he said, 'My wrist is a little sore, but I'm good to go,' " said Brown. "When we got to competitive stuff where it was 5-on-5, he took his first [two] shots left handed. He scored runners over defenders with his left hand. ... He uses either hand beautifully, at least to the little bit that I saw [Tuesday] in practice."

Bryant sat in a chair on the sidelines dribbling a basketball with his left hand before the game. When he got up to go to the locker room to receive treatment on the wrist, he swished a left-handed 3-pointer from the corner before walking off the court. He emerged from the locker room in the first quarter wearing a suit and took a seat at the end of the bench.

Klapper said that wrist injuries of that nature do not typically require surgery, but could keep Bryant out 3-4 weeks depending on the degree of the tear.

"If it's completely torn, you're talking about a month out," Klapper said. "But, if it's just showing up on the MRI as bruising in the ligaments or in the bone, then that's a different story. Then it's less of an injury."

Brown said he was not told what grade the tear was, but added, "from my understanding, he doesn't need surgery."

The injury news comes as a blow considering that Bryant, 33, had reported being in top physical condition throughout training camp. Bryant traveled to Germany to undergo an innovative procedure on his bothersome right knee during the offseason. He said his knee, which held him out of most practices last season, had improved.

Bryant was also playing without a wrap on his arthritic right index finger during training camp, suggesting his finger had improved during the offseason as well.

"Obviously I feel a lot stronger and a lot quicker being able to get to the basket and get to the free throw line, which will be a huge plus for us," Bryant said after the Lakers' loss to the Clippers on Monday.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com