Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers is consoled by Kobe Bryant after coming out of the game in the second half against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers won their second preseason game, Kobe Bryant returned to the team and coach Mike D’Antoni tried out a new lineup that showed promise. All-in-all, it was a good night in Laker land.
In a sideline interview with Time Warner Cable, Kobe Bryant said, “I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” regarding his return.
Almost no one believes he will appear in the preseason, and most insiders doubt he will be in uniform on opening night. Still, there is no clear timeline on his return, and Bryant confirmed he will wait until he is 100 percent before strutting out onto the Staples Center floor.
Bryant recently left the team for a quick trip to Germany. There, he underwent a procedure unrelated to his Achilles, and Bryant confirmed that the most recent procedure was meant to help soreness in his knee once he returns to running. Bryant started jogging recently, but he has yet to test his Achilles—and knee—in a full sprint.
During Tuesday’s game, Bryant sat on the bench dressed in warm up gear and watched intently as the Lakers put away the Denver Nuggets.
One game after showing some rust, Pau Gasol bounced back with a 6-11 shooting night for 14 points and 8 rebounds. Despite being known for preferring smaller teams that can run up and down the floor, coach D’Antoni opted to start Chris Kaman and Gasol in tandem. The new partnership showed promise and drew praise from both players.
“His versatility, knowledge of the game and his unselfishness really helps our combination work well," Gasol praised Kaman after the game.
With five more preseason games remaining, D’Antoni will have several more opportunities to test out the new partnership and build chemistry.
In other games notes, Steve Blake led all scorers with 16 points in 28 minutes off the bench. Blake’s heavy minutes likely resulted due to Jordan Farmar’s absence. Farmar sat out for the second game in a row to rest a strained right calf.
In other injury news, Wesley Johnson’s MRI on Monday showed he had a strained tendon in his left foot. He was listed as day-to-day but did not take part in Tuesday’s win.