Kobe Bryant won't let a busted nose and a concussion keep him from trying to help the Los Angeles Lakers win games.Sporting a protective mask and coming off another inspired performance, the banged-up Bryant looks to help the Lakers avenge an early season loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Staples Center.After being knocked hard to the floor by Miami's Dwyane Wade during Sunday's All-Star game, Bryant played through the discomfort of his injuries and the mask to post 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as Los Angeles (21-14) returned from the break to beat Minnesota 104-85 on Wednesday."Kobe is a special human being," coach Mike Brown said. "I don't have answers for him. I don't know what he's made of. He's just different. His body reacts different."Already bothered a by a torn ligament in his wrist, Bryant has not missed a game this season while averaging an NBA-high 28.5 points. The broken nose and concussion left the 33-year-old with headaches, nausea and neck pain. None of which, however, were enough to keep him off the floor after he passed every concussion test from a neurologist."I understand the severity of the situation," Bryant said. "You have to go through those steps. It's part of the job. ... It's definitely different. In that sense, you're pretty helpless. You just have to be patient and hope for the best."You just have to deal with it and try to heal up as quickly as you possibly can, and get back on the court."The Lakers were glad to have Bryant on the floor as they shot 48.8 percent to win for the sixth time in eight games. Paul Gasol scored 15 points while All-Star Andrew Bynum added 13 with 13 rebounds as Los Angeles took advantage of a surging Minnesota squad playing without ill star Kevin Love.Bryant now looks to help the Lakers avoid a second straight loss to the Kings (12-23), who dropped Los Angeles to an 0-2 start with a 100-91 win at Sacramento on Dec. 26. Though Bryant finished with 29 points, the Lakers shot 42.0 percent and went 1 for 16 from 3-point range."I hope they enjoy this," Bryant said after that contest.Bryant has averaged 31.0 points on 47.9 percent shooting in his last 27 games versus Sacramento, but the Kings have won two of three after losing eight straight in the series. Sacramento snapped a six-game road skid to the Lakers with a 100-95 win Jan. 28, 2011.Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points with 10 rebounds in that road contest. He finished with 23 and 10, respectively, as the Kings fell for the seventh time in nine games, 108-100 at home to the Clippers on Thursday.Despite the defeat, the city of Sacramento announced Thursday its plan for a new 391 million arena that would keep the Kings in California's capital for at least another 30 years. With that behind them, they return to the road where they snapped a six-game skid away from home with a 115-107 win at Washington on Feb. 22.Sacramento swingman Marcus Thornton has averaged 21.1 points in the last seven road games. He's totaled 60 points on 23-of-39 shooting in the last two meetings against the Lakers, but has combined for 17 in two against them as a reserve at Staples Center.
SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.
“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.
Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.
“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”
On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.
Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.
The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.
It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.
“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”
To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.
“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”
Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.
“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”
The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.
It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.
Michael Malone won't be on the sideline when his Nuggets take on his former team on Monday night.
The NBA announced Monday afternoon that Malone has been suspended without pay for the game against the Kings.
The suspension stems from Malone "entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official" during Denver's game against the Lakers on Sunday. The incident occurred midway through the second quarter.
Malone was hired as head coach of the Kings prior to the 2013-14 season. He was fired just 24 games into the 2014-15 season.
Coverage of the Nuggets and Kings gets underway at 6:30pm on NBC Sports California and streaming on the NBC Sports App.