Kobe Bryant has missed three games in a row with a sore right shoulder, which is the same shoulder that required surgery a season ago. However, one final trip to the state capital to face the Sacramento Kings has Bryant off the shelf and expected to return to the starting lineup.
"I'm sure a little bit of that went into the play," Lakers coach Byron Scott said when asked if playing one last time in Sacramento played a part in Bryant's improved status.
"I think most of it is more, he feels a lot better, so he's ready to play again," Scott continued after Wednesday's practice. "I think if he felt the way he felt two days ago, then we wouldn't be talking about him playing this afternoon."
Bryant, who only missed one game in December (also due to a sore shoulder), averaged 18.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 36.9 percent shooting for the final month of 2015. He has yet to play in the New Year, but overall, Bryant has played in 29 of 36 games this season. Bryant missed two games early in the season due to a bad back, and he missed one game due to rest on the second night of a back-to-back.
"Progress has been made on the shoulder," Scott said. "It feels better. We'll go from there tomorrow and see how much he can take in the game. And obviously, that's yet to be determined."
On Thursday, the Lakers and Kings tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Notes: D'Angelo Russell, who missed Tuesday's game due to a sore throat, will travel with the team and is officially listed as "probable." Bryant is still listed as "questionable" on the team's official travel notes.