Los Angeles • Kobe Bryant was back from Germany, the innovative knee procedure over and done with, but there was still no timetable for his return to basketball.
"He said it went great, feels good," Coach Mike D’Antoni said Tuesday, the Lakers and Bryant declining to provide anything additional.
Bryant attended the Lakers’ 90-88 exhibition victory against Denver in Ontario and did only one interview.
He told Time Warner Cable SportsNet he felt fortunate to be where he was health-wise. He also said he was ahead of schedule, though he’d have to return quickly to make that fully factual.
When the Lakers released a timetable in mid-April, they said Bryant was approximately six to nine months from returning. They have repeatedly declined to update it since then.
The reason Bryant remained sidelined was his Achilles’, not his knee.
Bryant sat on the bench during the game while wearing Lakers warmups. It was as close as he got to playing exactly three weeks before the season opener.
Will he be back in time to face the Clippers?
"I have no idea," D’Antoni said. "Obviously, as you get closer, it gets tougher, but he’s doing everything he can to get back as quick as he can."
Fans wanted him back Tuesday. They shouted "We want Kobe" in the second and third quarters at the half-empty Citizens Business Bank Arena.
While on the bench, Bryant pointed out game-related tidbits to Lakers newcomer Wesley Johnson, who sat out because of a sore left foot. Bryant also dialogued with Jordan Farmar, the reunited teammates sharing a series of private laughs in the first quarter. Farmar sat out because of a sore calf.
Bryant chatted for a few minutes before the game with Denver Coach Brian Shaw in the Lakers’ training room, which is off limits to reporters.
In Germany, Bryant underwent "Orthokine" to try to provide relief for a chronically sore arthritic joint in his right knee.
He had the procedure twice on his knee in 2011 but did not go back to Germany last year. He raved about it two years ago, calling it a "big plus" because it made him feel stronger and quicker.
He did it again a few days ago because "This summer, I haven’t had the chance to run, so I don’t know how the knee is going to hold up," he told TWC SportsNet.
The procedure targets proteins or molecules called interleukin that cause inflammatory responses. Blood is taken from the affected area of a patient and spun in a centrifuge, allowing antagonists to be removed to create a serum that is injected back into the targeted area.
As for Tuesday’s game, Pau Gasol made the biggest statement - if there is such a thing in an exhibition - with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. He made six of 11 shots as the Lakers played in Ontario for the second time in four nights and took a 48-31 halftime lead..
Steve Nash wasn’t sharp, totaling four points, five assists, four fouls and three turnovers in 22 minutes. Chris Kaman started alongside Gasol and had 12 points and seven rebounds.
©2013 Los Angeles Times
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