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Kobe Bryant Pleased With Progress, Could Make Debut Sunday

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Kobe Bryant, sidelined since April with a torn Achilles tendon, could make his season’s first appearance Sunday against Toronto in Los Angeles. That’s the goal of the Lakers’ superstar, anyway.

“I’m trying,” Bryant said Thursday.

He said he’s “pleased” with the way his injury has responded to three consecutive strenuous workouts, but he will measure the stiffness after more practices.

“The [left] ankle joint, that’s the thing that’s been restricted for so long,” Bryant, 35, said. “You’re talking about months of immobility, so you got to work through that a little bit. There’s still some scar tissue in there that needs to be broken up. That’s done through movement and therapy and mobilizations.”

He said he does not possess the explosiveness he displayed last season. “I’m not jumping through the gym by any means, but I don’t need to be able to do that in order to be a great player,” he said.

Whenever he returns, which could be Tuesday against Phoenix if not Sunday, Bryant expects to log less than the 38.6 minutes he did last season, which was a point of controversy because he of his age and the number of  years he has been playing.  This is his 18th season in the league.

In fact, coach Mike D’Antoni likely will ease Bryant into the flow, monitoring his minutes in an effort to prevent a setback.

“The perfect-case scenario is that we get it right the first time,” Bryant said. “But if it’s not, then you have to be smart about it as well and take a step back and build up the strength and say, ‘Hey, listen, it’s not as good as we thought it was going to be, so let’s take a step back and get it to where we want it to be and try again.'”

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