Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Shaq, Kobe both expected to play for Lakers

The Associated Press

        LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers stars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, sidelined briefly during the opener of the Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio, are expected to play Tuesday night in Game 2.

        O'Neal missed nearly 10 minutes while receiving three stitches to close a cut on his right index finger. He returned to the game with 10:50 left — just as Bryant was leaving after he bruised his right knee in a collision with San Antonio's Bruce Bowen.

        O'Neal scored 13 points following his return, and Bryant, who came back with 4:36 remaining, made a basket and free throw in the final 24 seconds of the Lakers' 86-80 victory.

        Neither player practiced Monday, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said both will play.

        Jackson said he might use Bryant more than usual to avoid the possibility that his knee would stiffen up when he came out.

        “I feel all right, it feels a lot better that it did last night, I'm happy about that,” Bryant said Monday. “The swelling in my knee is pretty much under control. I'm definitely going to play. It's just a matter of getting it under control. I have a wrap on it now, ice it on and off. I'm going to do that all day today and tomorrow.”

        O'Neal wasn't available for comment.

        Meanwhile, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it's unlikely David Robinson, sidelined due to a nerve problem in his lower back from a herniated disc that affects his right leg, will return Tuesday.

        “But we're fairly optimistic for (Game 3) Friday if he keeps progressing,” Popovich said.

        “I'm just taking it day-by-day,” Robinson said. “It's very hard to sit there and watch it. But I'm really proud of our effort.”


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- Shaq, Kobe both expected to play for Lakers
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