With three basketball-free days in between last Friday's loss to Memphis and Tuesday's road trip to the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the midst of one of their longest breaks of the season.
For the franchise's talismanic star, Kobe Bryant, that break has been that little bit longer after he sat out last week's loss to the Grizzlies with a sore shoulder.
Fortunately for those fans wanting to see as much of the Black Mamba as possible before he retires, the veteran should be returning to the court alongside his teammates this week. This according to his head coach, Byron Scott.
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As reported by ESPN, the Lakers coach said there was a "good chance" Kobe plays against the Nets this upcoming Tuesday:
"That's still to be decided," said Scott. "But I think there's a good chance he plays Tuesday and Wednesday."
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In his conversation with reporters yesterday, Scott went on to add that the final decision on Bryant's availability for the Nets and Nuggets games would be made today (Monday) - either during a face-to-face meeting at the Lakers facility or over the phone.
Playing through the pain
Kobe's absence from the lineup against Memphis on Friday was the 10th time he has missed a game this campaign and his shoulder has been a lingering issue throughout this, his final season in the NBA.
Having not played since February 24, however, it looks like the extended period of rest should put him in good stead for the Lakers' back-to-back schedule this week.
With the Lakers holding the second-worst record in the NBA (11-49), Bryant's farewell tour has become the focal point of their season.
Now with just 22 games left in which to participate, you can bet your bottom dollar Kobe will be doing his upmost to make it out on to the court for every last one of them.
Even if some days are harder than others. A point emphasised by Scott:
"The shoulder bothers him every now and then," the coach told ESPN. "That's what he'll tell you, too.Hey, I'm old right now. Every now and then I wake up and something's hurting.' I know the feeling, and I'm a lot older than him. But I know the feeling."
"Hey, I'm old right now. Every now and then I wake up and something's hurting.' I know the feeling, and I'm a lot older than him. But I know the feeling."
With the Lakers currently in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, they could use the moral boost of seeing Bryant back in the lineup after his one-game absence.
Kobe's return might not be enough to help break the losing trend, however. His season average of 17.1 points per game is the lowest of his career when starting double-digit games and the franchise as a whole is struggling for momentum.