Reporting from Indianapolis — So this is why Kobe Bryant isn't sitting out a few weeks, or even a few games.
The injuries have stacked up -- broken finger, bad back, sore elbow -- but the Lakers' shooting guard has been sharper in recent games after enduring a dreadful shooting slump.
He has changed the splint on his broken right index finger, moving from a soft pliant type to a harder plastic that has insulated the finger when it gets slapped in games. Bryant's back spasms have also receded and his strained elbow can now be classified as a past injury.
"You see me out there on the court, I'm bouncing around a lot more because I'm healthy," Bryant said. "I can move around the court with a lot more energy and be more active. I'm feeling good."
In the Lakers' 118-96 victory Wednesday over the Indiana Pacers, Bryant made 10 of 15 shots and finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, the second time this week he came close to a triple-double. He had 27 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and nine assists Sunday against Toronto.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson attributed it to the new splint.
"He wasn't getting the support he wanted," Jackson said. "I think they got that straight."
Bryant experienced some awful shooting nights earlier this month, including a four-for-19 effort Jan. 18 against Orlando and a four-for-21 nightmare Jan. 10 against Milwaukee.
Jackson coached Javaris Crittenton for more than half the 2007-08 season and seemed to frown upon the NBA's decision to suspend the former Lakers guard the rest of the season because of a locker-room gun incident that involved Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas, who was handed the same penalty.
"I'm disappointed that Javaris received that, although he's part and parcel, I suppose, to that party and they have to mete it out that way," Jackson said. "But he's a young guy that still hasn't got a chance and we [think] he's a great player and we hope he comes back and rehabilitates himself next season."
Crittenton, drafted No. 19 overall by the Lakers in 2007, was traded to Memphis as part of the Pau Gasol deal in February 2008.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the president of the players' union, said he would discuss the suspensions today with Billy Hunter, the union's executive director and "decide what course of action, if any, the union should take."
Arenas said he would not fight the decision, but Crittenton told the union he would consider an appeal.