Kobe Bryant says wrist getting stronger
"The wrist's feeling stronger," Bryant said Friday after scoring 42 points in the Lakers' 97-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. "I'm feeling stronger, I'm feeling more comfortable. ... It's getting a lot better."
Bryant suffered a tear of the lunotriquetral ligament in his right (shooting) wrist during the preseason. The injury showed at times -- most notably when he coughed up eight turnovers in a season-opening loss to Chicago and later when he shot just 6-for-28 against Denver -- but Bryant seems to have the ailment in check based on his recent performances.
More on the Lakers
For more news, notes and analysis of the Lakers, check out the Lakers Index. Blog
It was Bryant's third straight 40-point game, marking the first time since March 2007 when Bryant has scored 40-plus in three consecutive games. The 16-year veteran now has 110 40-point games in his career, placing him third all-time behind only Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173).
"It's just motivation," Bryant said. "Nobody wants to hear about a bad wrist as being the reason why I had a bad game; you saw that a couple weeks ago [against Denver]. Nobody wants to hear excuses, so I got to go out there and do what I do."
Bryant has bounced back from a season-low 16 points in the Denver debacle with seven straight games of 25 points or more, including three over 30 and three more over 40, vaulting him to the top of the NBA's scoring list with a 31.2 points per game average. He's not only scoring a ton, but he's doing it efficiently. He has shot 98-for-196 (50 percent) from the field in the Lakers' last seven games and L.A. has won six of them.
"I could go on and on about how well Kobe played for us in terms of scoring the basketball," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "He's shooting over 50 percent from the floor and he hit some tough shots, but we have to keep trying to make sure that we keep executing offensively so we don't have to rely on him so much. But it always a good thing to have a guy like Kobe Bryant in your back pocket."
Said Cavaliers guard Ramon Sessions: "That's why he's one of the best in the league, if not the best. That's why he's Kobe Bryant. The name speaks for itself."
Bryant said the one limitation that his wrist still causes is difficulty with handling the ball. Bryant receives an injection of a numbing agent in the wrist before every game that makes it difficult for him to develop a feel when he dribbles.
"Ball handling is not something that I really [want to do]," Bryant said. "It takes too much energy and the wrist is not quite ready to handle the ball that much."
Bryant will look to continue his streak Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he hurt the wrist against originally when he fell to the floor after Clippers center DeAndre Jordan blocked his shot attempt.
The Clippers, reloaded with Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler joining last season's Rookie of the Year in Blake Griffin and coming off a win over the Miami Heat, have started to gain a lot of attention, both in Los Angeles and on a national scale.
"There's a lot of talk. There's a lot of talk going on," Bryant said. "I sure as hell am going to answer the bell. So, it's going to be fun."
The Lakers lost both of their preseason meetings this year against the Clippers.
"It's a good test," Bryant said of the 9-4 Lakers playing the 5-3 Clippers. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good challenge. They're going to be pumped up and excited. There's going to be a lot of energy, so it's going to be interesting to see how we respond."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.