- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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Bryant played through back spasms in the Lakers' 116-107 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Despite Bryant's condition, he played a game-high 44 minutes against New York, including the entire second half. Bryant's 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists weren't enough to stop the Lakers from dropping their fourth straight game to fall to 9-14.
Bryant wore a heating pad on his lower back during timeouts and also shot free throws and jump shots at halftime with the pad wrapped around his torso.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol did not play against Washington, missing his seventh straight game because of knee tendinitis. The Lakers are just 1-5 without Gasol this season.
With or without Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer, the Lakers will try to get back on track against a Wizards team that has a league-worst 3-16 record.
Bryant joked on Thursday that the Lakers would rather face another Washington team, the Generals, better known as the ultimate patsies who lay down and lose to the Harlem Globetrotters game after game.
"Every game for us has a lot of meaning to it at this point," Bryant said. "Maybe if we were rolling and playing well then, (a game at Madison Square Garden) probably would have added significance, but at this point, I wish we had the Washington Generals on our schedule."
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