Lakers hope Kobe can compete against Kings

It's hard to imagine Kobe Bryant opting to sit out a game with the Los Angeles Lakers on the doorstep of a playoff spot.

That could be the case Saturday, when the Lakers close out a four-game road trip (1-2) against the Pacific rival Sacramento Kings.

Los Angeles released a statement Friday regarding the health of both Bryant and point guard Steve Nash.

"Kobe Bryant received treatment on his foot and ankle today and his status for tomorrow is probable. Steve Nash also received treatment today and his status for tomorrow is questionable."

Bryant's bothered by a bone spur in his left foot and said after Thursday's 113-103 loss at Milwaukee that he will be "all right." Bryant was seen using a crutch and was also hampered by an ankle issue not too long ago. The five-time NBA champion and 15-time All-Star is trying to lead the Lakers into the postseason as they sit even with Utah for eighth in the West. The Lakers were off Friday night and the Jazz defeated Portland, 105-95.

Bryant is nearing another milestone and his 30 points against the Bucks pulled him within four points of Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) for fourth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He passed former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for fifth place back in early February.

Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) are the next in line on the all-time scoring list.

Nash is bothered by a back and hamstring issue and registered 16 points and six assists against the Bucks, while Dwight Howard had a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds in the setback. The Lakers were coming off a win at Minnesota and have dropped four of five games.

"He toughed it out at first. I could tell he was hurting," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Nash. "I just didn't have the heart to put him back in. He wanted to go back in but it wasn't fair to him. He was hurting."

Perhaps an extra days' rest will help Nash in his recovery.

After Saturday's game in Sacramento, the Lakers, who are just 14-24 on the road and already without forward Metta World Peace (knee), will return to Staples Center for a pair of challenging games versus Dallas and Memphis.

If the Lakers fail to play their cards right, they could be in for some trouble against the Kings.

Sacramento will begin its last homestand of the season, a five-game residency that includes visits from Houston, Dallas, Memphis and New Orleans. The Kings, who are 19-16 as the host, have won two in a row and four of six games, including Thursday's 117-103 triumph at Phoenix.

DeMarcus Cousins scored a season high 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Isaiah Thomas totaled 23 points for the Kings. Cousins helped aid a 14-0 run for a 60-46 lead and the Kings led by as many as 19 in the third quarter.

"I just feel like I got it going early. My jump shot was falling and with them giving me my jump shot and hitting it, it helped the rest of my game," said Cousins, who has 32 double-doubles on the season and has scored in double- figures in seven of the last eight games he has played in. "It was fun. I think we bounced back from our mistakes."

Cousins owns six double-doubles in the past eight games as well.

Sacramento ranks first in the NBA with 108.9 ppg since the All-Star break and has scored 100-plus points in 20 of the last 23 contests. The Kings, who have posted 100-plus points in 11 straight home games, have been dishing out the assists lately, too, with 20 or more in 17 of the previous 19 contests.

The Kings have lost two of the first three meetings with the Lakers this season and will finish the series Saturday. Los Angeles is 12-4 in the past 16 meetings between the division rivals, but has lost three straight as the guest. Cousins has played in just one of the game against L.A. this season.

Bryant is averaging 29.0 ppg in two matchups with Sacramento.