Bryant Continues To Progress
Kobe Bryant took another step towards his increasingly imminent return to game action on Tuesday afternoon in El Segundo, completing a full practice with no restrictions, including a full-court scrimmage.
"Today was a good day, so we’ll see tomorrow how he reacts," said Mike D'Antoni, who will oversee two more days of practice ahead of Friday's game at Sacramento. "Today was a big step forward."
Bryant was on the floor alongside starters Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol to close practice; though he appeared content mostly to create shots for others*, Bryant did turn some heads with a strip of Xavier Henry and resulting dunk on the other end. He did not appear limited in any way as his full recovery from Achilles surgery progresses by the day.
*"He does that in practice sometimes, explained D'Antoni. "He can get his shot when he wants to. He goes back and forth."
“He looked pretty good, really good actually,” said Gasol. “You can tell he's been working a lot on his own. He looked in a good rhythm and knows what he's doing out there. I think he looked really good and I look forward to tomorrow's practice.”
With Bryant on the floor, the intensity of practice inevitably rises.
”He played hard, played for about a half-hour or 45 minutes and did everything,” D’Antoni recalled. “Practice is going to be different from a game. But he controls the game. I didn’t see anything he couldn’t do. We’ll see.”
The question is, of course, can Bryant return to play in Friday’s game?
“We don’t want to jump the gun,” tempered D’Antoni. “We don’t know. Obviously we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and he has to go through the practice tomorrow. Then we’ll see how he feels Thursday and we’ll go through practice Thursday. We’ll see if he’s able, but like I said, today he looked good.”
That’s why they say “day by day,” one supposes, as Bryant’s reaction to Tuesday impacts what he’ll do Wednesday, and so on and so forth. Furthermore, the news that Jordan Farmar will miss a month due to a hamstring strain or that Steve Nash is “very doubtful” to play on Friday cannot impact when Bryant returns.
With that said, Bryant’s announcement with the starting line up appears in line to be more “sooner” than “later.”