Kobe misses 1st game of season, says he should be OK to play Tues.

ByBaxter Holmes ESPN logo
Sunday, December 20, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant missed Saturday's 118-78 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sore right shoulder, but he said he doesn't believe it's serious and that he should be able to play Tuesday against the Nuggets in Denver.

"It's been sore for the last couple games," Bryant said after the game. "I felt like I was able to play through it and things like that, and this morning I got up and it was pretty sore."

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Thunder team doctors told him at halftime that the injury wasn't severe.

"It's just some soreness," Scott said.

Bryant recorded his first dunk of the season on Thursday against the Houston Rockets, a right-handed slam over forward Clint Capela in the third quarter of a 107-87 loss.

"I'm sure it didn't help," Bryant said of the dunk, "but I didn't miss four free throws [in the Houston loss] out of the blue. It was bothering [me] for a while."

Playing in his 20th season, Bryant, 37, pointed out that he had "pretty heavy-duty" surgery on that same shoulder after tearing his right rotator cuff in late January during a dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans.

That injury sidelined Bryant for the rest of the 2014-15 season, marking the third straight campaign that has ended early because of injury.

"I think it was kind of logical to expect it to be sore at some point," Bryant said. "You've just got to get ahead of it and just rest it and come back ready to play."

Speaking of Tuesday, Bryant said that if he's not able to play, "it just means it was a more thunderous dunk than we all thought."

Scott said he wasn't sure whether the dunk against the Rockets is the reason Bryant's shoulder is sore.

"Anybody that saw the dunk, [and] a couple days later it's a little sore, you would put those two together," Scott said. "I want to wait and see what the doctor says after he has a look at it, and then we'll just go from there."

Bryant had been playing well lately, averaging 18.8 points on 48.9 percent shooting in his past six games, a dramatic turnaround from his first 17 games, over which he averaged 15.9 points on 29.6 percent shooting.

Before Saturday, Bryant had missed three games this season, two because of a sore back and one for rest. On Nov. 29, when he announced his plans to retire after the season, Bryant declared he wanted to play in every game the rest of the season, which he had achieved until Saturday.

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