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Bryant says he feels fine

December 13, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

What's wrong with Kobe Bryant? Nothing.

That's what Phil Jackson said Friday.

Bryant's stats are down this season, but the Lakers' coach isn't overly worried despite characterizing Bryant's game as "bothersome" earlier this week.

Jackson sees nothing wrong physically with Bryant, who says he feels fine.

Said Jackson: "I can usually tell by the walk that he has in a game at some point after he's played 30 or 35 minutes what condition he is [in]. I think he's being honest about this. He looks good. He's totally in touch."

At the same time, Jackson said Bryant was struggling at the start of games because the Lakers were feeding Pau Gasol down low.

"Kobe's the kind of guy that's a streak player. And Pau's a guy that gets us going," Jackson said. "We like to attack inside. Our size is important.

"A lot of time Kobe sits back and doesn't get enough opportunities and then to get going, he needs to have some shots to do so. And he hasn't been clicking on those right away. It takes him a while to get himself going offensively. So we'd like, and he'd like, to get himself going earlier. I'm going to try and get that accomplished as we go along here."

It seemed to happen Friday against Sacramento.

Bryant had 10 points in the first quarter, including a double-clutch dunk off a feed from Gasol. He finished with 32 points.

Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists last season on the way to his first most-valuable-player award. He's playing almost five fewer minutes per game, but his numbers are down to 24.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season. He is shooting 46.1% after shooting 45.9% last season.

Bryant doesn't seem perturbed.

After a nine-for-25 shooting effort in a loss Tuesday to Sacramento, he joked that he probably missed the "cowbells and the food poisoning," references to the rowdy Arco Arena crowd that often harassed the Lakers earlier this decade, as well as his infamous bout with food poisoning from hotel room service in Sacramento.

Bryant has said his right pinkie, which he injured last season, is not a shooting hindrance.

The other 'Kobe'

Coby Karl was back at Staples Center, playing for the Idaho Stampede in a Development League game Friday afternoon against the D-Fenders, the Lakers' affiliate.

He is taking a hefty pay cut to stay in the game he loves -- he'll make about $20,000 with the Stampede after earning $427,000 with the Lakers last season -- but he hopes the phone will ring soon.

Karl was one of the Lakers' last cuts this season. He is free to sign with any NBA team.

"I get to play 30, 40 minutes a night on a team that's really good. It's a good experience," he said. "Obviously I hope to play NBA minutes some time this year. I don't know when that's going to happen . . . or if that's going to happen. I just need to play better than I did tonight."

He is averaging 17.8 points for the Stampede (5-1), though he had only five Friday before fouling out with 7:23 to play.

Karl, who currently lives outside Boise, also had five rebounds and five assists in Idaho's 100-93 victory over the D-Fenders.

He averaged 1.8 points in 17 games with the Lakers last season and acknowledged missing the experience.

"It's different not being part of the team," he said. "I'm on the outside looking in now. It's real different."


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