Kobe Bryant expected back Tuesday

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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.