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With Kobe Bryant a no-go, Lakers are a no-show

He misses his first game this season, sidelined by shin injury that has pained him all week, and team plays little defense in 125-105 loss to Phoenix

April 08, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan

PHOENIX — — Kobe Bryant took the night off. So did the Lakers' defense.

Bryant sat out because of a sore left shin and the Lakers couldn't stop the Phoenix Suns in a 125-105 loss Saturday at US Airways Center.

Bryant was sidelined because of a condition called tenosynovitis. There is no timetable for his return, though he will be reevaluated Monday in New Orleans before the Lakers play the Hornets that night.

Bryant was kicked in the shin last Saturday against New Orleans and the sensitivity in the area became progressively worse. The Lakers tried putting him in a walking boot a few days later, and he felt better between games, but experienced pain again in the area after a game.

Tenosynovitis occurs when a tendon sheath becomes inflamed, causing soreness whenever the tendon slides in or out of the sheath. Bryant was noticeably limping in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 112-107 loss Friday to Houston.

He did not talk to reporters Saturday.

"It's very painful," said longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. "He's been playing with this and it's not getting any better. Really the only way to stop it is to shut him down. That's why we put him in a boot. But we put him in the boot, he comes out, he feels better and then he plays and we're back to square one."

Bryant's shin hurts whenever he flexes his foot, Vitti said.

The Lakers (35-22) were pretty much injured throughout Saturday's game.

They surrendered a season high in points and set a team record by forcing only three turnovers. Their lead over the Clippers (34-22) in the Pacific Division fell to only half a game.

Shannon Brown left the Lakers last December via free agency and reminded them of it Saturday, scoring 24 points for the Suns. Phoenix reserve guards Michael Redd and Sebastian Telfair had 17 and 12 points, respectively . . . in the first half.

"There was a point where we were an extremely physical defensive team and right now we're not doing a good job in that area," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said.

Andrew Bynum had 23 points but didn't shoot well in two areas. He made only 10 of a career-high 27 shots and was three for nine from the free-throw line.

"I left about 50 [points] out there," said Bynum, who was ejected during the fourth quarter of the Friday night loss to the Rockets. "Three or four layups, three of four little shots in the lane. Couldn't make them."

He added later, "I didn't want to go to the line. I was scared. I shot 33%. . . ."

He appeared to be only partly joking.

Pau Gasol tried to keep the Lakers in the game, scoring a season-high 30 points with 13 rebounds.

The Lakers' reserves were again wildly ineffective, outscored by those of the Suns, 52-10.

Devin Ebanks had 12 points as a surprise replacement for Bryant in the starting lineup against Phoenix.

He started the first four games of the season but was then either in the Development League or at the end of the Lakers' bench. He had played in two games since January for a total of five minutes. He played 32 minutes Saturday.

Saturday marked the first game Bryant missed this season. He played all 82 regular-season games last season and 73 the previous season.

He is averaging a league-high 28.1 points and is fourth in the NBA at 38.4 minutes a game.

After their next stop in New Orleans, the Lakers finish a three-game trip Wednesday in San Antonio.

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