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Bryant’s foot a sore subject

By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES—The injuries are starting to mount for Kobe Bryant, as they often do.

He is expected to miss Wednesday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Clippers because of a bruised and strained right foot, his third and most serious injury since training camp began three weeks ago.

Bryant was in a dour mood when he met with reporters Tuesday, saying he was “pretty sore” and would not play Wednesday even if it was the regular season.

He was injured when he tripped over the foot of Sacramento forward Thomas Robinson while cutting through the lane with about 3:25 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s exhibition against the Kings.

Bryant stayed in the game and finished with 21 points in the Lakers’ 99-92 loss. The foot swelled up overnight, and Bryant has been in pain since.

“It’s always frustrating to have these freak accidents,” Bryant said. “It always upsets me.”

Dwight Howard also isn’t expected to play Wednesday, taking a day off to recover from his first game since April. He will take part in the Lakers’ exhibition finale Thursday in San Diego against Sacramento, his last game action before the regular season begins Oct. 30 against Dallas.

The Lakers might want to get healthy soon. They are 0-6, their worst exhibition start ever.

“Any time anybody’s been out, it slows it down,” Coach Mike Brown said. “Dwight being out the first five games … it’s setting us back a little back. Jordan Hill being out, it’s setting us back a little bit.

“But the beauty of it is this is an 82-game season. We’ll be in the playoffs. Don’t get that wrong. We should hopefully have everybody healthy when it counts.”

Hill, who was acquired last season, returned to practice Tuesday after sustaining a herniated disk in his back this month. He will play Wednesday.

Bryant has been nicked up since training camp began.

His right foot started bothering him only a few days into it, an unrelated injury to the one he has now, and he sustained a strained right shoulder in practice a few days after that.

Despite it all, Bryant has been the Lakers’ most effective player, averaging 20.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 50 percent in five exhibitions.

Bryant said his latest injury wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it forced him to rest.

“It’s going to slow me down a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been going full-bore every day.”

———

Analysts say …

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have never hidden their thoughts on the Lakers.

Earlier this month, in fact, O’Neal said Howard was the third-best center in the league, behind Andrew Bynum and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez.

So it wasn’t overly surprising to hear the TNT analysts give a thumbs down to the Princeton-style offense the Lakers employed this season.

“I want my accountant and my auditors and everybody from Princeton. I don’t want my offense from Princeton,” Barkley said in a conference call Tuesday with reporters.

Added O’Neal: “If they want to switch offenses, I think they should go back to the triangle.”

Barkley wasn’t completely dour on the Lakers.

“The Lakers and the Celtics are the two biggest things that have ever happened to the NBA,” he said. “The Lakers and Celtics are money-making gold mines. (The Lakers) are in the conversation for the next five years with a legitimate chance to win the championship. There’s only a couple teams who can say that. The Lakers are just amazing to me.”

TNT analyst Reggie Miller added, “You always have to put great product on the floor and that’s what the Lakers have done the last 30-40 years.”

Barkley even provided a way for the Lakers to prevail if they meet Miami in the NBA Finals.

“The only way to beat them is to beat them up physically,” Barkley said, calling the Heat a “very small team.”

“LeBron James is great, but he can’t stop Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.”

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