Lakers’ Kobe Bryant still near ‘tippy-toe’ point of recovery

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Kobe Bryant was in a joking mood before the Lakers played Memphis.

“I’m feeling good. I’ll be back playing tomorrow,” he said Friday as he walked away from reporters surrounding his locker.

Then he added, “I’m kidding.”

Bryant hasn’t spoken in-depth to reporters in more than a week, but he’s not on pace for a happy Thanksgiving, at least in the basketball sense.

“He hasn’t got any practice yet, so it would be tough,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Not that Bryant needed a ton of practice, but he was barely even shooting as of Friday, doing some light perimeter work that appeared to have evolved mildly from the set-shot style he had been adopting.


“He’s progressing,” D’Antoni said. “I think he’s on the court a little bit now, taking shots and stuff. He keeps getting better.”

Bryant has been doing “tippy-toe” set shots since the team played exhibition games in China a month ago. Has it evolved beyond that?

“Tippy-toe? That’s cute,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe a little bit more than tippy-toe.”

A Lakers official later held his thumb and index finger an inch or two apart, suggesting Bryant hadn’t done much jumping … yet.

There is still no timetable for his return.

“I haven’t heard back that he’s ready to practice or anything like that,” D’Antoni said. “He’s still progressing and I think it’s better than yesterday, but I don’t know yet.”

What about Nash?

The other hobbled starter in the Lakers’ backcourt, Steve Nash, did some light shooting Friday at the team’s practice facility, but shooting isn’t the problem for him.


It’s the torque that comes when he twists his body or turns quickly to run.

Nash has been suffering from nerve damage in his back and is still at least a week from returning. He had an epidural injection Tuesday that was meant to create more of a buffer between one of his disks and a sensitive nerve.


Will the Lakers be without an All-Star this season?

Bryant, Nash and Pau Gasol are on the All-Star ballot released Friday, but two of them are injured and Gasol’s stats haven’t been great.

Bryant hasn’t played since April, and Nash is averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 assists while playing in only six of the Lakers’ 11 games.

Bryant, a 15-time All-Star, led all players in votes last season.

There is precedent for injured or seriously ill players to be voted All-Star starters.

Alonzo Mourning missed almost the entire 2000-01 season because of a kidney disease, but fans selected him for the 2001 game. Yao Ming suffered a fractured knee in December 2006 but was selected for the 2007 game.

Gasol, a four-time All-Star, was averaging 13.4 points and shooting 39% going into Friday’s game against Memphis.

The All-Star game is Feb. 16 in New Orleans. Voting ends Jan. 20.


Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan