On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly met for practice in El Segundo. After a victory in Detroit on Friday night, Mike D’Antoni decided to get in some extra work ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Portland Trailblazers. Kobe Bryant was present and took part in the practice session.
“[Bryant] looks like he’s making progress,” D’Antoni said on Saturday.
D’Antoni confirmed that Bryant would not play on Sunday and said the Lakers would take a closer look after the team had a series of practices in the upcoming week. Bryant was visible when the media was allowed onto the practice court. He took part in shooting drills with Jodie Meeks and Shawne Williams.
Bryant did not address the media on Saturday, but his coach refused to say either way whether Bryant would return to the floor for Friday’s game against Sacramento. D’Antoni did not appear to be hiding information, and he contended that he honestly did not know.
“[Bryant will] be listed pretty soon ‘day-to-day,’” D’Antoni revealed. “When he’s ready to roll, he’ll go.”
Beyond Bryant, the Lakers have other injury worries. Jordan Hill did not take part in Saturday’s practice, but he was at the facility. D’Antoni said Hill was probable for Sunday’s game after suffering a left ankle sprain during Friday's win.
Later in practice, Lakers PR informed the media that Pau Gasol had a sprained right ankle and a minor issue with his left hand. Gasol was also expected to be available for the Lakers on Sunday.
D’Antoni also confirmed that Chris Kaman was available, and the coach was asked to explain why he opted to use Robert Sacre over the veteran in the past two games.
“[Kaman] wasn’t getting enough minutes to be real effective and didn’t feel good about it,” D’Antoni said on Saturday, hinting at a bit of frustration in the locker room.
D’Antoni explained that the team was in a good rhythm and the current lineups appeared to be working, so he opted to not force Kaman into the rotation and disrupt the rhythm. However, Sacre’s inclusion the past two games contradicted the coach’s statements regarding using consistent lineups.
Whatever the reason, Kaman appears to be the odd man out for the time being. If Hill and Gasol cannot recover fully, however, Kaman’s continued exclusion would lead to further questions.