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LAKERS

Kobe Bryant doesn't expect to play against Boston

He says it's a sore small tendon on his lower leg that is bothering him more than his sprained ankle, and that the Lakers have their eyes on the championship, not any individual game.

February 18, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

Kobe Bryant probably won't play Thursday against Boston, but, then again, who are the Celtics these days?

Bryant did not practice Wednesday and didn't try to hide the fact that his left ankle was bothering him when asked whether he would play against the Lakers' longtime rival.

"Right now it's a no," Bryant said Wednesday. "If I wake up [Thursday] and I feel drastically different, then I'll play, but I doubt it."

Bryant revealed that he wasn't bothered as much by a sprained left ankle as he was by a sore small tendon on the outside part of the lower leg that runs behind the ankle bone.

"I've played through sprained ankles," Bryant said. "Tendons are a little different. They kind of have their own agenda on when they want to heal.

"It's sore. Can't push off of it enough to play so I'll just take my time, do therapy around the clock, go after it as aggressive as I play."

The Lakers are 4-0 in Bryant's absence, including a sloppy 104-94 victory Tuesday over Golden State. After Thursday's game, the Lakers don't play again until Tuesday in Memphis, meaning Bryant would have gone 18 days between games.

"It's important for everybody to understand what we're playing for," Bryant said. "I would love to come back [against Boston] and play, but I'm not ready so I won't. But we want to win a championship. . . . If that means missing a big TNT doubleheader, then so be it."

Bryant said he was on "one-and-a-half wheels" during Monday's practice but said he did not further damage his ankle.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Bryant had been cognizant of a consecutive-games streak before taking himself out of the lineup after a Feb. 5 loss to Denver.

"I think he liked having the fact that he played [235] consecutive games," Jackson said. "Once you miss one, you can't restart that really quickly and get to that number without a whole lot of years. I think it's reasonable that he rests."

Normally it would be a big deal to see Bryant skipping a game against Boston. Celtics-Lakers was the most-viewed regular-season game on TNT last season, but this one is lacking a bit. The Lakers (42-13) have held up their end of the bargain, but Boston (33-18) has struggled. The Celtics have gone over 100 points only once in their last 14 games. However, the Lakers are quick to point out Boston isn't done yet, regardless of age (Ray Allen is 34, Kevin Garnett 33 and Paul Pierce 32) or injury (Garnett has a sore right knee).

"They have a style of play that keeps them in the game," Bryant said. "They have obviously one of the top defenses in the league. They have three big-time players that can produce in the clutch and then you add [Rajon] Rondo to that mix as well."

Career-high guy

Shannon Brown had 27 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday against Golden State, both career-highs and his first double-double, but Bryant was impressed with something else: "What I'm most pleased with is his defense, and him creating turnovers for us and helping us get out in transition."

Trade winds

The trade deadline is noon Thursday, but the Lakers weren't close to any deals as of Wednesday. "We don't seem to have anything going on right now," Jackson said.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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