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Lakers' Ron Artest hasn't been cleared to play

Artest, who suffered a concussion at home Friday night, visits a neurologist and is to be re-evaluated Monday. If cleared, he would fly to Phoenix and join team for Monday night's game against the Sun

December 28, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Ron Artest blocks out Cavaliers forward LeBron James during a battle for a rebound on Christmas Day.
Lakers forward Ron Artest blocks out Cavaliers forward LeBron James during… (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)

Reporting from Phoenix — The Lakers moved on to Phoenix. Ron Artest remained home in Los Angeles.

The Lakers forward, who missed Saturday night's game at Sacramento after sustaining a concussion, visited a neurologist Sunday and was told his condition was improving. But he was not cleared to play, will be revaluated again today and, if cleared, will fly to Phoenix and play tonight against the Suns.

Artest suffered the concussion Christmas night, telling Lakers officials he fell down a flight of stairs while carrying a box. His agent said it happened an hour after the Lakers lost to Cleveland. Artest was treated and released at the UCLA Medical Center emergency room.

Artest's Twitter account, usually a well-used and, uh, unique supply of communiques from him, was also silent Sunday, the second day in a row he sent no tweets to his tweeps.

"I have not spoken to him directly," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Sunday. "He was relatively, I was going to use the word 'addled,' but I don't think that's the term I want to use -- 'incommunicative' after the incident. There was some confusion and stuff, but he's much better now."

Jackson wasn't sure whether he would start Lamar Odom again in Artest's place. Odom had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the Lakers' double-overtime win over the Kings on Saturday, but missed nine of 15 shots and had six turnovers.

Basically, Jackson hoped Artest would be healthy enough to go against Phoenix. Artest is averaging 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and four assists a game.

"We're hopeful that he'll play but he's got to be seen [medically] and go through that process, and then he can fly," Jackson said.

He's fine . . . again

Kobe Bryant cut off the questions before they began.

"Elbow's fine," he said to reporters. "Next question."

Bryant sustained a strained right elbow Saturday night but finished with 38 points on 16-for-30 shooting, including two three-pointers in the second overtime.

Bryant was hit on the elbow on a drive near the end of the third quarter and spent most of the fourth quarter using his left hand, leading Jackson to ask longtime trainer Gary Vitti whether Bryant would be able to play to full capacity.

"I asked Gary to check with him during a timeout," Jackson said. "He came back and said, 'If I tell you that [Bryant] can't play, he's going to break my arm.' "

Bryant stayed in the game, won by the Lakers, 112-103.

"That's why God gave me two hands," Bryant said, smiling. "I don't know about you. Just in case you get a little cramp in your index finger while writing, you can write with your left. Or type with your left."

Bryant said he might use a protective pad on the elbow for tonight's game.

Many, many minutes

The Lakers are in the middle of four games in five nights. They definitely didn't want double overtime in Sacramento, even though they won.

Pau Gasol played 51 minutes. Bryant and Odomeach played 50 minutes and Derek Fisher played 39 minutes.

"Double overtime, that's something you can't avoid," Jackson said. "Unfortunately, we got locked into that and put 10 [extra] minutes on the floor [Saturday] night. Without Ron, there's going to be more minutes on a lot of guys in this situation."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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