Kobe Bryant says rehab “progressing slowly”

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It’s been clear for a while that Kobe Bryant was done for the season.

The Lakers would not say that publicly for the same reason the Bulls would not say Derrick Rose would not come back last playoffs when we all knew he wouldn’t. They don’t want to anger their star player, and if fans want to hope you don’t want to rip that away from them. But the time for Kobe to return to the Lakers and make a difference is well in the rear view mirror now.

In his latest interview, with kustoo.com, Kobe reiterates what he has said before — that he is frustrated riding the stationary bike but his knee fracture is not healing fast and that’s all he is left with. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News has the translation and an update.

“It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience,” Bryant said in a recent interview with Jacques Slade from Kustoo.com that mostly centered on his work with Nike. ”There’s only so much I can do. I find myself relegated to a bike. The first few weeks, it’s cool. I’m getting a good workout in. Third or fourth, I’m thinking I need to do something else. I want to play. I want to run. I want to do something different. But you got to do what you got to do.”

The Lakers plan to reevaluate Bryant on Friday, perhaps giving him medical clearance to advance his rehab beyond stationary bike exercises. But the Lakers anticipate Bryant would need a couple of weeks to progress fully toward full-court practices. Add the days up, and Bryant could return as early as the beginning of April, but that presumes he doesn’t experience any setbacks.

Let’s take the most optimistic scenario from that list: Kobe Bryant gets medical clearance on Friday then for two weeks works out and practices, ready to return March 28, that means he could take part in the Lakers last dozen games of the season.

What is the point?

Even if he could get back Kobe should take the rest of this season off. For the next two years as they rebuild the roster the Lakers are going to sell Kobe — they signed him to a two-year, $48 million extension because he is going to sell out the expensive courtside seats, fill the luxury boxes, get the season ticket holders to renew, keep the television ratings up and bring in the sponsors. Other rebuilding teams sell hope, the Lakers will sell Kobe.

Better to have him come back fully healthy next fall for that run, no reason to push him back for meaningless games this season (that the Lakers should want to lose anyway). If he even can, it sounds still like he is a ways to go.

But nothing will be official for a while.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)