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Kobe Bryant’s Foot Injury Threatens His Status As Season Nears

Kobe Bryant‘s strained foot could keep him out of  next Tuesday’s season-opener against the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

Bryant tripped over the foot of rookie Thomas Robinson of Sacramento in Sunday’s exhibition game, and said the pain was so strong that he would have missed Wednesday night’s preseason game against the L.A. Clippers even if it were a regular-season game. Considering Bryant’s amazingly high threshold for pain, that’s saying something.

A 17-year veteran, Bryant missed several practices earlier in training camp because of discomfort in the same right foot. However sources told Wednesday night that this injury is a different injury, in a different place on his right foot, and is considerably more painful.

Lakers center Dwight Howard also sat out of Wednesday’s game after feeling sore on Monday and Tuesday following his first game action in six months, but Brown said he will “probably” play on Thursday night. Reserve forward Jordan Hill, sidelined since the first game of the preseason with a herniated disk, scored 12 points in 26 minutes in his return to the court.

Bryant’s injury means that the Lakers’ new-look starting five with him, Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash will have played just one game together in the preseason before the regular season opens at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 30. Jodie Meeks, who came over from Philadelphia, started in Bryant’s place on Wednesday.

“Obviously it would have been great if they would have had more on-court time against a different-colored jersey,” Brown said. “But, again, I’m a long-term guy and not a short-term guy, so, they’ll be ready when it counts.”

The preseason does not count, but it is worth noting that the Lakers have lost all seven of their preseason games to this point. In the end, though, it is about Bryant getting healthy. The new-look Lakers do not work without Bryant.

“I don’t know if he’ll be ready,” coach Mike Brown said Wednesday. “So yeah, I guess there is question. I’m just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play because there’s nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway.”

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