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Kobe Bryant stands, despite bad ankle, and helps deliver Lakers a win

After struggling in the first half of a 97-84 victory over the Magic, he makes five of eight shots and some key defensive plays in the second half.

March 15, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gets past Orlando guard Jason Richardson on a drive in the first half Monday night at Staples Center.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gets past Orlando guard Jason Richardson on a drive… (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters )

Kobe Bryant limped out of the Lakers' training room late Monday night, right past the horde of media, which was looking for him to explain how he played with a sprained left ankle, and into the shower.

Bryant opened the door leading into the restroom, looked back at the media and laughed.

"You guys might as well go and grab Snickers," Bryant said, smiling.

A few minutes later, Bryant returned, a towel wrapped around his body, his tender ankle still sore after playing against the Orlando Magic in a 97-84 victory at Staples Center.

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There had been much discussion about whether Bryant would play, the official response that it would be a game-time decision.

Few doubted whether Bryant would play.

Bryant was asked if there was any chance he wouldn't play.

"Yeah, yeah," Bryant responded. "But the swelling went down like six or seven percent each day. It was crazy. So, it felt good enough to go."

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Bryant was able to go 30 minutes and 53 seconds.

He departed the game with 3:37 left, the Lakers holding a 16-point lead.

Bryant had injured his ankle in the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

He said it was the size of a "softball" in Dallas. But on Sunday, Bryant said the ankle was the size of a "baseball" and then it was the size of a "golf ball" Monday.

Bryant scored 16 points, but he was just seven-for-19 shooting from the field. Still, Bryant had five rebounds, four assists and one steal.

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He maintained that he was not that limited in what he was able to do on the court.

"It affected my balance a little bit just from a trust factor, to trust the ankle in the first half," Bryant said. "Then at halftime, I just kind of had to give myself a little pep talk, stop acting like a [scared person] and go out there and play and shoot my shot."

Bryant said it was more of a "mental" situation for him. He wanted to be sure that the ankle could hold up.

Bryant was two for 10 from the field in the first half, his shot looking short on most occasions.

But in the second half, Bryant was a totally different player. He made five of eight shots and scored 12 points.

"I think he was trying to find his way out there," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "He was aggressive and he wanted to attack.

"I thought he did a good job defensively at times for us out there. He helped on the boards, got a steal inside, some of the things that are really necessary for us to play well."

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