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Kobe Bryant is upbeat before Lakers' game against Heat

Despite being sidelined again, this time because of a fractured knee, he shows a positive attitude in meeting with reporters leading up to Lakers' 101-95 loss to Miami. 'The knee is not really a concern to me — a fracture will heal,' he says.

December 25, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

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Kobe Bryant wasn't depressed. He wasn't inhaling chocolate-covered caramels and peppermint bark while trying to digest the latest injury that wrapped itself around his left leg.

He shrugged off a fractured knee as if it were a torn toenail or mildly sprained wrist, even though he'd probably sit out another five weeks.

He's paying attention, though, once again monitoring who's saying naughty and nice things about another Bryant injury.

"Same old tune, it's just being sung a little more loudly now. Those types of things just really help me lock in more than ever," Bryant said Wednesday before the Lakers lost to the Miami Heat, 101-95.

Bryant was upbeat while meeting with reporters for the first time since being injured Dec. 17 in Memphis. No one's feeling sorry for him. This isn't a Derrick Rose situation.

Bryant said he wasn't aware of any scenarios where he would sit out the rest of the season because of the knee. Self-optimism about the way his Achilles' tendon felt in his last game outweighed any negativity Bryant felt about his newest injury.

"The knee is not really a concern to me — a fracture will heal," he said. "The biggest question mark was how well my Achilles' [tendon] would respond to my game, and I feel pretty good about that."

Bryant injured his knee while dribbling in the post with minimal contact from Memphis guard Tony Allen. He kept playing after a timeout and finished with his best stat line in only six games — 21 points on 50% shooting, five rebounds and four assists.

It was his fourth game in five nights, and he played 33 minutes, the most in his comeback from the torn Achilles' tendon that sidelined him for nearly eight months.

Bryant said that injury did not lead to the fractured knee, directly or indirectly.

"I don't think one had anything to do with the other. We've evaluated it pretty extensively," he said.

Bryant thought he had a bone bruise or hyper-extended knee when he went to see team doctor Steve Lombardo last week as a precautionary measure. He thought Lombardo was joking when he told Bryant of the fracture.

Said Miami forward LeBron James, who was watching that game on TV: "I didn't think he was going to return to that game when it happened, but he did, so I didn't think too much more about it until I saw the news the next day. There's a few guys in our league who can come back from anything, and obviously he's one of them."

Bryant called the last week "slow" and said he couldn't put any added pressure on his left leg. He has been able to do some work on an exercise bike, he said.

Before Wednesday, he hadn't attended the three other Lakers games since his injury. Being a spectator isn't easy.

"It's really, really hard to watch," he said. "I find myself kind of watching a little bit [on TV], and then changing the channel, and then watching a little bit, and then changing the channel. It's tough."

The Lakers (13-16) were 2-4 with him in the lineup and fell to 1-3 since he got injured again.

Best Bryant stopper ever?

Allen is the best defender to cover Bryant in his 18-year career.

Source: Bryant.

Bryant called Allen "the guy who has defended me the best individually in the league since I've been in the league.

"Being able to go up against him [last week] and respond to that challenge, I feel really good about it."

Allen guarded Bryant while with Boston in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals and several times in regular-season games since signing with Memphis.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Melissa Rohlin contributed to this report.

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