Lakers’ Kobe Bryant feels better, Andrew Bynum doesn’t


Just another day at the Lakers’ training facility, with Kobe Bryant calling his much-discussed photo shoot “a little too artsy,” Andrew Bynum acknowledging he might indeed be injury-prone, and, oh yeah, some other players talking about the continuation of their playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

It’s never boring in these parts, even during a seemingly one-sided playoff match-up that moves to Game 2 on Tuesday at Staples Center.

It looked more and more as if Bryant and Bynum switched places on the health meter, the 31-year-old guard saying he was “very encouraged” by how his right knee felt, while the 22-year-old center accepted the facts of his growing medical file.

“I guess I am kind of injury-prone,” said Bynum, who missed 32 games last season, 47 in 2007-08 and 17 games this season before sustaining a pain-inducing tear in cartilage in his right knee last week.

His jumping ability was affected in the Lakers’ Game 1 victory and there probably won’t be any improvement until he gets surgery.

“It’s the same as it was,” said Bynum, who had eight points and 10 rebounds. “It’s going to be that way until I get it cleaned out.”

Season-ending surgery is an option if it worsens, but Bynum will continue to play though the discomfort, which he described as a sharp pain because “bones are against each other.”

“Cutting and jumping and landing and pushing off is where I feel it, but running in a straight line is not bad at all,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bryant looked revitalized Sunday in a 31-point effort on effective 12-for-19 shooting, the first time since March 31 he made more than half his shots.

“It felt good,” he said Monday. “I felt very healthy.”

Bryant despises talking about his injuries, although he was open to discussing his much-debated photo shoot in editions of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times Magazine. In one photo, he wore a white V-neck T-shirt with a white scarf over his head. In another, he wore a white top hat and also a white sweatband around his head.

“They’re a little too artsy for me,” said Bryant, who indicated he didn’t necessarily like the “Babyface kind of look that [the stylist] gave to me,” but said the shoot was fun.

“I had a good time.”

A reporter then mentioned the photos of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was photographed kissing himself in a mirror last year in a magazine spread.

Whose photo shoot would Bryant have preferred?

“The one that has four rings,” he said, referring to the four NBA championships he has won. “Then I can tell everybody to kiss my…”

At any rate, the Lakers resume the Western Conference semifinals against a Utah team they have dominated in recent years.

They are 19-6 in their last 25 games against Utah, including playoffs, and haven’t lost at home to the Jazz since Jan. 1, 2006, a string of 15 consecutive victories.

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said he hoped to return for Game 2 after not playing since March 26 because of a strained left calf, a roster addition that would improve Utah’s defense and add a passer’s touch in addition to point guard Deron Williams.

The Lakers already have a forward with a passer’s touch, among other things, Pau Gasol continuing to play well in the postseason.

He had a typically well-rounded game Sunday, compiling 25 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, along with a playoff-career-tying five blocked shots. He has had double-doubles in five of the Lakers’ seven playoff games and will be relied upon much more heavily if Bynum is unable to provide much scoring down low.

“He knows that. He’s ready to go,” Bryant said. “He’s focused. He’s intense.”


Bryant said he was comfortable with the results of the MVP voting after finishing third behind Cleveland forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant. “I think they got it right,” Bryant said. “LeBron had an incredible year and Kevin did as well.”

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