NEW ORLEANS —
He left a game because of a sore right shoulder from a third-quarter dunk, unable to finish in the fourth after firing up two shots, both with his left hand, in a 96-80 loss Wednesday to the
"It's a pretty simple message. It's the best organization in the world, best brands in the world," he said, reluctant to name names because of the
The last couple of summers have been lean for the Lakers, who lost
But Bryant lauded the ability of Lakers General
"It's phenomenal, so much so that the league had to protest a trade that he made," Bryant said, referring to the vetoed
The list of free agents will be strong but without a LeBron James or
The Lakers will have enough money to sign one maximum-level player or two well-above-average free agents.
Meanwhile, there was a game Wednesday and a baseline dunk by Bryant against a surprised
He added that the shoulder "came out a little bit. It's been bothering me a lot but right now it's a little achy."
When Bryant re-entered in the fourth, he quickly made a 14-foot turnaround with his left hand but then airballed an eight-foot hook shot, also with his left. He dribbled and passed almost exclusively with his left hand.
Bryant walked off the court and straight to the locker room after the Lakers called a timeout with 1:09 to play. He didn't rule himself out of Friday's game against San Antonio.
"I've played with a torn labrum before," Bryant said, adding he played with a separated shoulder earlier in his career.
Bryant also chafed mildly at some of the recent questioning of his overall health after he sat eight of the last 16 games for "rest" reasons.
"We make a lot of it, but the reality is I'm doing some pretty phenomenal things in 30 minutes [a game]," adding with some colorful language that his body wasn't that messed up. "I could play every game. It's just really [Coach Byron Scott's] call. I'm good either way."
Bryant had 14 points Wednesday, his first game in six days, but the Lakers, losing their sixth in a row, couldn't do much better than a 69-68 deficit going into the fourth quarter at Smoothie King Center.
Bryant handed out a career-high 17 assists last Thursday against Cleveland but wasn't as sharp against New Orleans (two assists, four turnovers), and that was before his shoulder injury.
It almost felt like the game was in Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, Bryant filmed a scene for a movie with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg called "Daddy's Home." Bryant shot it with the two stars in his Lakers warmups at the Pelicans' arena.
Later, at halftime, fans were encouraged to stay in their seats as Ferrell came out and made a mockery of a halfcourt shooting contest in two takes. After the cameras turned off, Ferrell, a frequent courtside presence at Lakers games, hugged
Hill had 15 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday, but Young fell back into his January skid, making three of 11 shots for nine points.
Anthony Davis had 29 points in his return from a toe injury. His future looks bright. It wasn't nearly as easy to say the same about the Lakers.