Kobe Bryant expects to play Saturday

Updated: October 12, 2012, 10:00 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was able to practice Friday after missing an exhibition game Wednesday with a shoulder strain and is expected to start the Lakers' exhibition game Saturday against the Utah Jazz.

"He definitely did enough today to start," Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

A final determination on Bryant's status will be made before Saturday night's game at Staples Center, but Bryant had no restrictions in Friday's practice and he said he would play against the Jazz.

"It's good," Bryant said of the shoulder. "It's strong."

Bryant said he initially hurt the shoulder Tuesday during practice when he dunked over teammate Antawn Jamison.

At the time, he didn't feel pain and finished the practice.

Bryant then spent another 35 minutes on the court working with assistant coach Phil Handy on shooting and ballhandling drills. Later Tuesday night, though, his shoulder swelled up.

"(Tuesday) night it was very painful," Bryant said Wednesday night. "It hurt to even lay down. But it's a lot better right now."

Bryant had surgery on his right shoulder in 2003, but said this injury is completely unrelated to that one and he doesn't expect to need an MRI.

"I don't need it; it's not that serious," Bryant said.

Third-year guard Jodie Meeks started in Bryant's place Wednesday and would do so again if he missed another game.

As expected, Lakers center Dwight Howard said he would not play Saturday.

"Right now, there's no rush for me," Howard said. "It's preseason games. My biggest concern right now is to make sure I'm in good shape."

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