YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Mike D'Antoni says Kobe Bryant will still miss 'a bunch' of games

Lakers coach says despite the star's presence at practice, he thinks team needs 'to be cautious' and not hurry his return to lineup. Bryant had been out since mid-April with a torn Achilles' tendon.

November 17, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant talks to teammate Nick Young before a preseason game.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant talks to teammate Nick Young before a preseason… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni downplayed Kobe Bryant's activity level in Saturday's practice, saying it was too early to tie it to an official return from a torn Achilles' tendon.

Bryant had been sidelined since mid-April but returned to the practice court for some drills Saturday and light shooting Sunday.

“I know we're all excited, everybody's excited, and I'm sure he's excited, but [it's] a little bit premature right now,” D'Antoni said Sunday. “You're dealing with, ‘Is he sore today? Is there a setback tomorrow?' That's the first step and there's a lot of steps to be taken, so I just think we need to be cautious. We just better be cool and chill out a little bit.”

Saturday's practice was closed to reporters, but Bryant “surprised most people” and did some jumping but no dunking, D'Antoni said.

“Two 360s and threw the ball off the side of the wall and dunked one time,” D'Antoni joked.

The Lakers (5-7) have often struggled in late-game situations without Bryant. When he's healthy, there's no question who shoots in crunch time.

“He's a presence, no doubt, and we need that presence, especially at the end of games,” D'Antoni said. “But we've got games to win and there's going to be a bunch of them before he comes back. So we're going to have to do our business.”

The big question — what will Bryant look like when he returns?

“There will be some struggles early. There's no way that he comes back with everything,” D'Antoni said. “But at the same time, his 10% is better than most people.”

D'Antoni was optimistic that Bryant would eventually be fine. He averaged 27.3 points, six assists and 5.6 rebounds last season.

“He'll be what he is. He'll drive and he'll do what he does and he'll post up and he posts up great, so obviously we'll do that," D'Antoni said. “We'll get him at all the spots he's good at.”

The Lakers have an unusually easy schedule coming up, with no games until Friday against Golden State.

They won't practice Monday and scheduled practices the following three days. Bryant would take part in “certain areas” of practice, D'Antoni said without offering specifics.

“Again, I think it's too early to tell,” he said.

Stu Lantz sits out

The Lakers aren't just struggling with their health on the court.

Longtime television analyst Stu Lantz did not take part in Sunday's game coverage because of laryngitis stemming from a head cold. James Worthy took his place as TWC SportsNet's color commentator for the Lakers-Detroit game alongside play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald.

Lantz is in his 27th season with the Lakers. The last time he missed a game was 2009, when he took some time off while his wife recovered from surgery.


Preview: Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons

Pau Gasol shares his "Life Vida" in new photo book

Without Kobe Bryant, Lakers have struggled through heavy schedule

Los Angeles Times Articles