Kobe Bryant missed his fifth consecutive game Sunday but hinted about his return from a sore left shin, telling ABC sideline reporter Heather Cox he would "definitely" play before the end of the regular season.
Bryant spoke briefly to Cox at the Lakers' game against the Dallas Mavericks about his shin, saying he would be back "well before playoffs."
The Lakers have five games left after Sunday and conclude the regular season April 26 against the Sacramento Kings. Bryant hadn't spoken to reporters in more than a week.
"It's feeling a lot better," Bryant said at Staples Center, adding he would be playing now if the postseason were under way.