Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, smiles while slapping hands with teammate… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)
Three weeks before the NBA playoffs, the Lakers hardly appear in full health.
Kobe Bryant watched Friday's morning shootaround while wearing a protective boot to protect his injured left shin, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. Center Andrew Bynum participated in most of the morning shootaround but left during free-throw drills for treatment on his sprained left ankle. Metta World Peace participated despite an unspecified ankle injury and Ramon Sessions was on the floor despite a sprained left shoulder and a jammed right index finger.
Still, Brown said he hardly felt concerned and all four will suit up Friday when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
"No one has said they will be limited," Brown said.
Seldom-used forward Jordan Hill remains sidelined with a sprained right knee.
Sessions' injury wasn't revealed until after Brown spoke with reporters. Sessions said he hurt his shouder at the end of the first half of the Lakers-Clippers game Wednesday when he lost his footing and fell into Bobby Simmons. At practice Sessions wore a protective pad underneath his jersey along his left shoulder. He also is receiving ice and stimulation treatment. Meanwhile, Sessions' said he's been nursing a jammed right index finger for the past two weeks.
"It's not affecting anything," said Sessions, who's averaged 14.4 points on 52.4% shooting in 12 games with the Lakers. "It's just one of those things where I'm taping it up and giving it support. I don't want to hurt it any worse than what it is."
Bryant, Bynum and World Peace showed against the Clippers that their injuries haven't affected them too much. Bryant has averaged 31.7 points on 61.9% shooting through three games in April, the last two while wearing shin guards. Bynum scored 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting, played lazy on defense on many possessions and acknowledged the pain in his ankle remains. World Peace, who made a key steal on Chris Paul late in the game, said his ankle has improved since he hurt it in last week's loss to Oklahoma City.
Brown and Sessions both said the energy level has remained high.
"I don't think anybody is sweating at all," said Brown. That's because he said he's limited intense drill work during morning shootarounds and practice time. The Lakers only received treatment on Thursday and then watched film. Once the Western Conference standings race becomes more solidifed, Brown also said he plans to limit minutes for Bryant (38.5 per game), Pau Gasol (37.2) and Bynum (35.4). The Lakers (35-20) currently hold a two-game lead over the Clippers (33-22) for third place, while trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-14) by 5½ games and the San Antonio Spurs (38-14) by 4½ games.
"That's a fine line because you want to go into the playoffs sharp," Brown said. "Since we're not practicing, we just have to be careful on how we do it. It's all a guessing game at the end of the day. If we can get guys rest and not have them be beat up going into the playoffs, that's what we're going to do. We're not there yet. We still have a little bit of time."
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