Kobe Bryant reduced his workload and was no longer jogging in the 20-minute bursts that were hailed as progress a week ago.
"I was cranking it up the entire time I was in China. I’ve scaled back since just to let it heal up a little bit more and get a little more flexibility to it," he told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
The Lakers said it was normal, the equivalent of pushing hard and then tapering off while Bryant recovers from Achilles’ tendon surgery in April. The team declined to update his return timetable other than the initial one pegging his comeback between mid-October and mid-January.
It’s safe to say Bryant won’t be ready for the Lakers’ season opener Tuesday against the Clippers.
Bryant also shot back at some public skepticism, including ESPN.com predicting the Lakers would finish 12th in the West this season while also calling Bryant the NBA’s 25th-best player. Bryant recently changed his Twitter avatar to "1225" for those reasons.
"No," he said sarcastically Thursday. "It’s my pet’s birthday."
Then he added, "The way I look at it, 25 is pretty silly. Still and all, it’s a challenge that I willingly accept."
Bryant, 35, also didn’t like being voted the second-best shooting guard by NBA general managers, the first time he wasn’t the top one in the poll’s 12-year history. Houston’s James Harden got the No. 1 spot. "I think they counted on me being on one leg," Bryant said.
Around the league
Bobcats • Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left Charlotte’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night with a strained right hamstring. It’s unclear the severity of the injury.
Raptors • Toronto exercised third-year team options on the entry-level contracts of center Jonas Valanciunas and guard Terrence Ross, extending them through the 2014-15 season. The 7-foot Valanciunas averaged 8.9 points last season. The 6-foot-7 Ross averaged 6.4 points last season and won the dunk competition at the All-Star Game.
Suns • Forward Markieff Morris was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Thursday for elbowing the Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka in the face. Morris was ejected in the third quarter Tuesday night in the Suns’ 88-76 exhibition victory. He will sit out the Suns’ regular-season opener Wednesday night.
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