Kobe Bryant sits out loss for shin
Bryant injured the shin last weekend against the New Orleans Hornets when he was kicked in the first quarter of the Lakers' 88-85 win. Bryant played the past four games with the injury, wearing a protective boot on off days and sitting out of shootarounds to avoid irritating his shin.
There is no timetable for Bryant's return. He will be reevaluated in New Orleans on Monday prior to the Lakers game against the Hornets on Monday night.
Bryant watched the game -- the Lakers largest margin of defeat all season -- while wearing a suit on the bench and exited the arena in a walking boot after the game without speaking to reporters.
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said Bryant has tenosynovitis, a condition where the tendon sheath in the shin has become inflamed, making Bryant experience irritation when his movement causes his tendon to slide in and out of the sheath.
"He's been playing with this and it's not getting any better," Vitti said. "Really the only way to stop it is to shut him down."
Vitti said immobilizing Bryant's shin with the walking boot in between games had netted positive results, but the pain would return after Bryant played.
"It doesn't seem like he is in pain," Lakers coach Mike Brown said after the game Saturday.
Bryant's official status is day to day, according to the team.
Bryant, 33, leads the league in scoring at 28.1 points per game. He also is fourth in the league in minutes played per game (38.4) and admitted after the New Orleans game last weekend that fatigue might be affecting his play.
Bryant shot just 3 of 21 en route to scoring 11 points against the Hornets, but he was able to perform quite well with the injury in the next four games, averaging 30.8 points on 56.6 percent shooting as the Lakers went 3-1.
Bryant received a massage and had kinesio tape applied to his shin before the Suns game but decided to sit out about 15 minutes prior to tipoff.
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Devin Ebanks, who had not played more than 10 minutes in a game since Jan. 13 against Cleveland, started in Bryant's place against the Suns and scored a career-high 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with four rebounds in 33 minutes.
"We faced a lot of teams with big guards so I wanted to see what Ebanks can do just in case, knock on wood, somebody gets hurt with some size on our perimeter," Brown said. "I thought for not playing in a long time he had a solid basketball game."
Bryant's consecutive games played streak ended at 138. He had played all 56 of the Lakers' games this season before Saturday and played all 82 games of the 2010-11 season.
The Lakers' loss combined with a win by the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday cut the Lakers lead to just a half a game for third in the Western Conference playoff standings. The Lakers will not practice Sunday as they travel to New Orleans for Monday's game. They finish out their three-game road trip in San Antonio on Wednesday.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.