The Lakers' Kobe Bryant is fouled from behind by the Kings' James Johnson as Sacramento's Marcus Thornton defends.

Kings prepare for Bryant despite his injury

Published: Saturday, Mar. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013 - 10:14 am

The Kings practiced Friday afternoon with no confirmation that the Lakers' Kobe Bryant would play against them Sunday in Los Angeles.

But they worked under the assumption that he would. The Lakers said Bryant, who severely sprained his left ankle Wednesday against Atlanta, would be out "indefinitely."

Kings forward Jason Thompson said "indefinitely" doesn't necessarily mean "a long time."

" 'Indefinitely' is a weird word. We've heard of it, and people come back the next game, so you never know what happens with that. We'll see. He's a guy that plays through a lot of injuries," Thompson said of Bryant.

The last time the Kings encountered an "indefinite" absence was DeMarcus Cousins' suspension for conduct detrimental to the team after an argument with coach Keith Smart in December. Cousins was reinstated by the team after one game, though he was benched by Smart in his first game back.

The Kings were wise to prepare for Bryant, the NBA's third-leading scorer. He started Friday evening at Indiana but played only 12 minutes, going 0 of 4 from the field in the Lakers' 99-93 victory.

"(Bryant will) be down one moment, and the next moment he's back," Smart said. "You never can tell if he's going to be totally out of the game, so you plan your game plan with Kobe."

John Salmons, who likely will spend much of the game defending Bryant, assumed all along he would face the Lakers star.

"As soon as I saw it, I said, 'Oh, he'll be back,' " Salmons said.

Bryant sprained his ankle when he landed on Atlanta guard Dahntay Jones' foot in the final seconds of a loss to the Hawks. Bryant was attempting a fadeaway jumper to tie the score.

With the Lakers clinging to the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference by one game, the Kings believed Bryant would play against them.

"They've got very little margin for error left to make their playoff run, and I don't think they can do it with him sitting out one or two weeks," Kings forward-center Chuck Hayes said. "Because they're already in a dogfight as it is, I'm pretty sure he'll muster it up and fight through it."

The news wasn't as promising for the Kings and their injury situation.

Sacramento could be without Cousins on Sunday for a second consecutive game because of a left quadriceps contusion suffered in last Sunday's loss to Milwaukee.

The Kings thought they could be without Cousins for two games for his flagrant foul 2 in retaliation for Mike Dunleavy's low box-out that caused Cousins' injury.

Cousins, however, wasn't suspended by the league, only fined for the flagrant and technical fouls he was called for in the game.

Smart said it would be a "bonus" if Cousins could play Sunday. Cousins did not practice Thursday and will test his leg today before the Kings leave for Los Angeles.

"(Cousins) went from light conditioning (Thursday) to now where you've got to put in the concept of moving laterally all over the floor, and that's something he did not have (Friday)," Smart said.

When the Kings played the Lakers in Los Angeles without Cousins on Nov. 11, Sacramento lost 103-90. Cousins was suspended by the league for that game for his postgame confrontation with San Antonio television analyst Sean Elliott.

Kings forward James Johnson also missed practice Friday. He's still excused from the team for personal reasons after missing the past two games.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

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