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Lakers

Kobe Bryant says he’ll play Saturday against Utah

Kobe Bryant is normally not the talkative type. At least to the media. Especially when it deals with injuries.

But there the Lakers guard sat at his locker room stall in Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday, talking extensively about his strained right shoulder that will keep him out of Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.  

Bryant hardly sounded concerned about the injury, which he said stemmed from dunking on Antawn Jamison during Tuesday’s practice. So much so that he said, “I should be fine,” when the Lakers play the Utah Jazz on Saturday at Staples Center. 

After the dunk, Bryant said he didn’t feel any pain. He talked for about 20 minutes following Tuesday’s practice. Then he participated in an hour-long workout with player development coach Phil Handy, where he worked on his shooting and ballhandling. 

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“Later on the evening, that’s when it kicked in,” Bryant said. “On the dunk, that’s when the arm basically went back.”

Once Bryant and the Lakers’ training staff alerted him about the injury, Coach Mike Brown said he immediately decided to sit him. Jodie Meeks will start in Bryant’s place.

“It’s a coach’s decision to hold him out,” Brown said. “He always chomps at the bit to play. He asked, ‘What if I want to fight you on it?” I said, ‘You can fight me all you want on it. It’s done.’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s like that,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ He always wants to play. He’s competitive. It’s his nature.”

Bryant understood and respected Brown’s decision. After all, Bryant said, the injury restricts his range of motion. But he couldn’t resist adding a dig. 

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“If there’s anybody that should get booed,” Bryant said with a grin, “it should be him." 

But Bryant said the pain has lessened since then. He said he didn’t need to take an MRI.  Though Bryant had surgery on his right shoulder in 2003, he said this injury doesn’t stem from that. Bryant’s currently wearing tape along both the front and back of his shoulder, which he says, “pulls your shoulder back a little bit and kind of prevents the shoulder from hitting that pinch.” After Bryant talked with reporters, trainer Gary Vitti connected Bryant to an electric-stimulation machine. 

“I’m good,” Bryant said. “It’s just a little pinch. I’m just resting.”

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Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.

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