Kobe Bryant could return Friday

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, but the Los Angeles Lakers acknowledged he could return Friday in Sacramento if he feels ready after a week of practices.

Los Angeles has no games between Sunday and Friday.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Bryant will use the three practice days to evaluate how he feels before determining whether he's ready to return from a ruptured Achilles tendon that's kept him out since April 12.

"I don't want to anticipate anything," D'Antoni said after practice Saturday. "Those are days that he can work and see, re-evaluate how he feels after the three days and then make a decision going forward.

"That doesn't mean he will play Friday, doesn't mean he won't. But that's the time you just evaluate, and I can't tell you what type of evaluation that will be."

The Lakers held an unexpected practice Saturday after returning from a three-game road trip late Friday night, in part so Bryant could take part in drills with his teammates. It was a light workout that consisted mostly of half-court, five-on-zero drills, but Bryant was a full participant.

"He wasn't really rusty," Lakers guard Jodie Meeks said. "I'm sure he's been getting a bunch of shots up.

"We prepare as if he's not going to play right now. When he comes back, we'll be happy to have him. He'll obviously make the game a lot easier for us."

While D'Antoni was reluctant to hazard any guesses as to when Bryant would return, or even put a timetable on it, it was obvious Bryant was getting closer to returning to the court.

"He'll be listed pretty soon as 'day to day,'" D'Antoni said. "And everybody knows that's the way it is. When he's ready to roll, he'll go.

"We'll have three days of practice, and then we'll know better. We'll have a better idea."

The Lakers host Portland this Sunday, travel to Sacramento for a game Friday, then return home next Sunday to play Toronto.

After signing a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the Lakers last week, Bryant said he was still "probably weeks" away from returning to the court.

D'Antoni said Steve Nash was due to return to the team Sunday after spending the week with his Canadian trainer, Rick Celebrini, rehabilitating from nerve root irritation in his back. Nash will be re-evaluated by Lakers' doctors early this week, and could return to practice this week if he's cleared.

Forwards Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol sat out of Saturday's practice with ankle injuries –- Gasol also has a hand injury –- but are listed as probable for Sunday's game.

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