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Bryant is relieved about his knee injury

October 23, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

Kobe Bryant didn't show it when he signaled to the bench, but he was scared.

"I saw the ring flash before my eyes," he said, referring to the Lakers' championship aspirations.

Bryant wasn't sure what the crackling sound was in his right knee after he banged it into the knee of teammate Josh Powell while chasing a rebound in Tuesday's exhibition against Charlotte.

He feared the worst.

"My knee just went back and I felt a little crunch, a little pop," Bryant said. "I was worried. That's the scariest part, is just sitting there for five or 10 minutes and waiting to see what's going to develop."

Bryant, after walking off on his own power to a locker room at the San Diego Sports Arena, was told he had a hyperextended right knee.

Make that only a hyperextended right knee.

In fact, he might play tonight in an exhibition rematch against Charlotte in Anaheim.

"If I'm good enough to go, I'm going to go. I don't see why not," he said.

Bryant said he "should be fine" for the season opener Tuesday against Portland.

The injury was not considered serious enough to schedule a visit with a doctor Wednesday after Bryant woke up without severe pain.

Bryant reported some soreness, but he can put weight on the knee and crouch down low with it.

He did not practice Wednesday and had ice wrapped around his knee at the team's training facility as he recounted the tension he felt the previous night.

He seemed relieved and was in a better mood than after Tuesday's game, when he walked past reporters and muttered brief answers to two questions before ducking into a sport utility vehicle.

On Wednesday, he joked around when talking about Powell, a power forward who signed with the Lakers over the summer after spending last season with the Clippers.

Powell received text messages and phone calls from friends and family about being the cause of the injury, Bryant said.

"It's all his fault," Bryant said, smiling. "I think we were mutually relieved."

Bryant, who won his first most-valuable-player award last season, had been experiencing a quiet preseason until a 28-point outburst Saturday in an exhibition against FC Barcelona.

Bryant's availability for tonight's game will probably be determined this morning.

"We always like [players] to go out and play," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "That's what they do. It gives our group a chance to function together out there on the floor. But if there's any kind of issue with it, I don't want him to play."

Roster trims

The Lakers waived second-round pick Joe Crawford and undrafted forward C.J. Giles, giving them 15 players, the NBA maximum.

Coby Karl was not waived, though Jackson hinted that the team might make one more cut before the season began.

Karl will receive a partial payout of a $712,000 team option on his contract if he is still with the team at the end of this month.

Crawford, who played four years at Kentucky, was a longshot from the start because he was the third-to-last player picked in the draft in June.

Jackson seemed more comfortable keeping Karl for now because he has a year's experience at shooting guard in the Lakers' system and because guard Sasha Vujacic only recently returned from an ankle injury.

"With Sasha still limited in what he could do and with the Kobe 'possible' injury, it seemed to be the right match," Jackson said.

Feet first

Vujacic will see a foot specialist this morning, which could determine his availability for tonight's game and the exhibition finale Friday against Oklahoma City.

Vujacic practiced Monday for the first time since injuring his ankle on the opening day of training camp.


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