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Lakers' Kobe Bryant practices again, says he might play this month

Lakers' Kobe Bryant practices again, says he might play this month
Former Lakers teammates Pau Gasol, left, and Kobe Bryant in 2013. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Kobe Bryant said he could envision returning to a Lakers game this month after practicing on Tuesday for the second time in four days.

"Yeah, I can," said Bryant, sidelined by a torn Achilles' tendon since mid-April.

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Bryant took part in a full-court scrimmage that was closed to reporters and a half-court five-on-five that was open to them.

He looked active, hitting fade-aways over Nick Young and Xavier Henry near the top of the key, scoring on a backdoor layup and also finding Wesley Johnson for a layup.

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There was also some rust, most notably when he airballed an open three-point attempt. Some of his passes were deflected or stolen.

Bryant played small forward and practiced mainly with a team consisting of Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake.

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said Bryant would not play Friday against Golden State. There are only four other games remaining this month: Sunday at home against Sacramento and a three-game trip next week to Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit.

Bryant often joked during his time off about a lack of conditioning, openly talking about slippage in his diet. After Tuesday's practice he said he was fine.

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"I've been doing a great deal of conditioning so I didn't feel tired," he said. "My legs didn't feel tired at all."

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Bryant also said he added strength in all his off-court workouts.

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"I'm able to hold defenders off pretty easily with my off hand and maintain position in the post and things like that. I'm much, much stronger now than I was," he said.

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Bryant said his ankle tendon was fine after giving him some problems when he started running last month. The question now is how he feels going forward and whether he can continue practicing at full speed. Bryant was observed in Tuesday's practice by team doctor Steve Lombardo and Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

D'Antoni said he was surprised by Bryant's activity level but continued to preach caution about his return.

"This was one good step but he needs a few more steps," D'Antoni said. "He hasn't played since April and he looked pretty good. I don't know why it surprised me but it does."

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