Bryant, Gasol playing in pain

Times Staff Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As if Andrew Bynum’s knee, Trevor Ariza’s foot and Chris Mihm’s heel weren’t enough injuries for the Lakers. . . .

After a 98-95 loss to Atlanta, all eyes are now shifting to Pau Gasol’s sore back and Kobe Bryant’s dislocated right pinkie.

Gasol practiced Thursday, but Bryant didn’t, leading to more questions about his immediate future.

He did electro-stimulation treatment and a bandage covered his hand Thursday. Bryant said he would play tonight against Orlando -- “It gets better every day,” he said -- but sounded less hopeful when asked about his availability for All-Star weekend.

Bryant was selected to start his 10th All-Star game Feb. 17 in New Orleans and also was scheduled to take part in the three-point shooting contest Feb. 16.


When asked if he might miss the All-Star game or the shooting contest, he answered, “Maybe.”

“We have to see how it goes. You’ve got to do the right thing. If I can’t play, if I can’t go out there, I won’t. Can’t do anything about that.”

Bryant, who was injured in a season-low six-point effort Tuesday against New Jersey, had 11 points on four-for-16 shooting Wednesday against Atlanta. He also had a late turnover in which he said he couldn’t feel the ball.

“You’re used to using these fingers here, especially to handle the ball and shoot and all of a sudden, you’re playing like this,” he said Thursday. “It’s tough to handle the ball.”

Bryant said he would probably not tape his pinkie and ring fingers together tonight.

Gasol also stepped back a bit with 12 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes against Atlanta after collecting 24 points and 12 rebounds in his Lakers debut Tuesday against New Jersey.

“He got run out of his position a little bit, pushed off the blocks a few times,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “He did fine [overall], though.”

Gasol can hardly wait for a four-day rest period over the All-Star break, but there’s that little problem of four more games until then.

“I’m looking forward to winning every single game [left] on this road trip and then take my break,” he said. “It’s definitely needed.”

On the day Shaquille O’Neal smiled for the cameras and held up a No. 32 jersey with the Phoenix Suns, Bryant still didn’t offer any public thoughts about it.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do or how they’ll execute or how they’re going to decide to use him,” he said flatly.

“I guess I was surprised as anybody else, but I didn’t give two thoughts about it. I could care less.”

Jackson, on his two injured starters: “Neither one of them have volunteered to sit. They seem to want to play.”



at Orlando, 4 PST (5:30, Channel 9)

Site -- Amway Arena.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 31-17, Magic 32-19.

Record vs. Magic -- 0-1.

Update -- Orlando trails only Boston and Detroit for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers gave up a late 9-0 run in a 104-97 loss to Orlando on Dec. 3. All-Star center Dwight Howard had 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots in 36 minutes for the Magic that night.