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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant will play in Game 5

среда, 27. април 2011.

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Updated: April 26, 2011, 10:51 PM ETBy Dave McMenamin
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant played in Game 5 of the team's first-round series against the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson made the announcement prior to tip-off.

"I think the questionable thing is, how well can he play? Can he help his team when he's on the floor? Do we stay with him if he doesn't help the team because he can be a liability on the defensive end? Will they attack him? All of those things are part of the picture and I'm going to have to make some decisions around that as the game goes on," Jackson said.

Jackson said Bryant would play about the same amount of minutes he did in Game 4, which was 36.

Bryant still hasn't had his sprained left ankle further examined through X-rays or an MRI, according to Jackson.

For more news, notes and analysis of the Lakers, check out the Land O' Lakers blog from the Kamenetzky Brothers. Blog

"If he knows that it's just a minor injury, if he knows his body that well, yeah, I think it's OK," Jackson said.

"It's something I think he can live with and we can."

The Lakers training staff evaluated Bryant at Staples Center prior to the game.

Bryant was limited at shootaround and Jackson was unsure of what capacity the back-to-back Finals MVP would be at come tip-off.

"He came out on the court and did some things with the ball, but it wasn't like a shootaround. It was more of a comfort zone," Jackson said.

When asked if Bryant ever explored further diagnostic tests on the ankle on Monday evening, Jackson said, "Not that I'm aware."

Bryant did not speak to reporters, but teammate Ron Artest downplayed the impact Bryant's ankle will have on his game.

"He's going to be fine. Kobe's Kobe," Artest said. "It's not even an issue because Kobe's Kobe. He's going to come and play."

If Bryant is limited, it could provide an ample opportunity for four-time All-Star Pau Gasol to get his game going. Gasol is averaging just 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in the series, down from his regular season marks of 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds.

"Everybody is going to have to step up and perform," Jackson said. "It's important for us."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for

Follow Dave McMenamin on Twitter: @mcten

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