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Lakers

Kobe Bryant says he’s fine after full-court scrimmage

Kobe Bryant
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is surrounded by reporters and photographers during media day in El Segundo.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

It was day two of training camp and Kobe Bryant was already tired.

Not physically. Just tired of all the questions.

He chided reporters for asking variations of the same subject Wednesday after he completed his first scrimmage.

How do you feel? How is your stamina? Your lift? Your conditioning?

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He said “I’m fine” nine times in 10 minutes, sticking close to a monotone for the most part. It’s obvious he’s ready for the games, even though they’re only exhibitions for a while and they don’t start until next Monday against Denver.

“I am what I am right now. I don’t know how to best say that, but I’m me,” he said.

Bryant made a jumper near the free-throw line early in the 12-minute, full-court scrimmage that was open to the media, and then drew oohs from a handful of Lakers scouts after hitting a turnaround from the right side over rookie Jordan Clarkson.

After the long layoff — no games since Dec. 17 — Bryant showed he still had the pump fake in his repertoire, trying it rapid-fire twice against Clarkson from the left side, but his shot hit the back of the rim.

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Bryant mainly operated out of the post and didn’t drive much.

He had some assists as well, intercepting Julius Randle’s pass in the lane, driving down court and dropping the ball off to Wayne Ellington for an easy layup. He found Steve Nash for an open 18-footer from the left and again found Nash when the 40-year-old cut to the baseline. Nash then passed quickly to Jeremy Tyler, who was fouled.

As the scrimmage wound down, Bryant’s last-second shot from the left elbow was a little long with veteran Ronnie Price defending him.

It was tough to gauge Bryant defensively because he was guarding Clarkson, who didn’t do much on offense.

“Kobe did great,” Coach Byron Scott said. “You could tell he was getting his legs under him, his wind is good, the rust is starting to come off.

“I loved what I saw with Kobe and Steve. For not playing basketball that much last year to be able to play the way today … I was impressed.”

Bryant, 36, hates to admit any shortcomings. He acknowledged, though, he would have to change his approach on a team-by-team basis.

“There would be certain guys who when I was younger I could beat with quickness and now probably not,” he said. “You make those adjustments kind of from game to game. It depends on who you’re matching up with.”

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Before Bryant concluded interviews Wednesday, he cracked a smile after being asked about the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland.

“You guys are killing me, man. You guys are rusty.”

His answer: “Great trade for them? I don’t know.”

Starting five?

Bryant and Nash would probably start in the exhibition opener, Scott said.

He didn’t commit to the other three players on the first unit Wednesday: Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson.

“We’ll wait and see,” he said.

The second unit consisted of Jeremy Lin, Randle, Clarkson, Nick Young and either Robert Sacre or Ed Davis in the middle.

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The rookies

Randle missed a running layup in the scrimmage and was mad at himself. Really mad. The first-round pick cursed and clapped his hands together.

Bryant seemed amused by him later.

“My first year in the league was the year he was born,” Bryant said. “That’s insane.”

Almost. Randle was born in 1994. Bryant was in the NBA two years later.

Bryant seemed to approve of Clarkson, the 46th overall draft pick, who had a busy day trying to guard him.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s a curious player,” Bryant said. “He tries to really pick things apart, really learn and absorb as much as he can.”

Etc.

Ryan Kelly sat out the scrimmage because of a strained hamstring. He is listed as day-to-day.… Xavier Henry missed his second day of training camp because of back spasms.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan


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