The Los Angeles Lakers didn't skip a beat with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum on the sidelines, and with both players close to rejoining the lineup, the Lakers are looking to keep rolling as the second half of the season begins.
"I think we're right where we want to be, considering all our injuries," Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. "Pau [Gasol] missed 17 games, Andrew went down, I missed a couple. Considering all the injuries we've had and to still be able to play with the rhythm that we've been playing with, I'm very pleased where we are."
Bryant plans to return to the court Tuesday against the Warriors, his first game since missing three games with a sprained ankle. Bynum missed the past two games with an injured hip and expects to play "at about 80 percent," according to the Press-Enterprise.
Both Bryant and Bynum practiced on Monday.
"[Bryant] said he didn't have the normal strength he'd like to have, but it'll come back," Lakers coach Phil Jackson told the Times. "That's just getting back in the flow and getting some strength there again, reconditioning it. He hasn't played in two weeks, so there's a lot of things that he was trying out and trying to figure out — passes that went awry and shots he was reluctant to shoot — but he'll come [around]."
Bryant is going into the second half of the season much healthier than he was the past month and will play with his usual level of energy.
The prognosis for the Lakers is extremely positive. Having their No. 1 and No. 3 scorers on the court will provide an added push for a team that won all of its games in their absence. Still, both players are not 100 percent and will have to proceed with caution.
In other injury news, forward Luke Walton is out again with a pinched nerve in his back. The persistent problem has forced him to sit out two months this season. The Lakers are hoping he can be available for the playoffs and avoid surgery.
"Right now, it's kind of experimental with Luke," Jackson told the Times. "We're trying to see where he can get to in this season and can continue on, hopefully, without having to do anything that would eliminate his year."
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