Kobe Bryant expected back Tuesday


bryant.jpgWell Grizzlies, aren’t you lucky?

After missing five games with an ankle and tendon sprain, Kobe Bryant thinks he should be able to return to the lineup Tuesday when the Lakers face the Grizzlies in Memphis.

Bryant practiced Saturday for the first time since Feb. 15 and when asked what he learned from the session he said, “I got that I’m able to play.”

“Today it felt very, very good,” Bryant said. “I can jump, I can drive, push off [and] I can get to the basket. It’s just a matter of now of how it feels tomorrow, I guess.”

Last time Bryant practices he said he was fine, then the next morning the ankle bothered him and he did not suit up. This time, however, the Lakers have a couple more days off before a Memphis/Dallas road back-to-back.

It will be interesting to see how Kobe and the Lakers mesh upon his return, a team that went 4-1 without him. On offense, the Lakers missed him as their production dropped (although they did a better job of getting their shots out of the triangle offense and not isolation plays). Where the Lakers stepped up without Kobe was on defense — their rotations and team defensive play was much better and more focused.

If that defensive mentality stays with Kobe back, the Lakers will be a lot more dangerous. Or, they might just take their foot off the gas and relax. Hard to tell with this team.

Looks like Donovan to keep Andre Roberson, Steven Adams as starters

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.

But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start  Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.

There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.

Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….

Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.

This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.

If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88

Harry Gallatin
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The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.

Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.