Kobe Bryant, who was hopeful of returning to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup before Thanksgiving, will miss at least five more games.
Bryant, who broke his right hand Oct. 13 in the Lakers' first preseason game, was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Wednesday and will be re-examined again in the next couple of weeks.
"The bone isn't completely healed yet," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "If someone hits him on the hand, he could fracture the bone again. He's dribbling, he's shooting, he can't have any contact."
Bryant admitted he was a bit disappointed.
"It's right on schedule, I was wishing for it to be a little early," he said following practice at the Forum, before his teammates left for Denver where they face the Nuggets on Thursday night. "I'm ready to go, man, I just want to play."
"The X-ray showed it hasn't completely healed. The threat of having it break again is not worth it. I wanted to come back earlier. That was wishful thinking on my part."
Bryant said he didn't expect to be cleared, but was hoping it would happen.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said it's possible that Bryant, who averaged 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season, would be cleared before the team's game at Seattle on Nov. 30.
The Lakers play Golden State the following night the first of four straight home games in a seven-day span.
"This is something we anticipated from the beginning," Jackson said of the latest diagnosis. "Hopefully, he'll be 100 percent when he gets going. He'll have a couple of practices before he starts."
Bryant, who had the cast removed from his hand two weeks ago, said he feels like he's ready to play, and admitted it's been difficult watching from the bench, although he's happy about the Lakers' 7-2 start.
"It's hard because I just love the game," said the 21-year-old Bryant, a fourth-year pro who began his NBA career straight out of high school. "Those are my buddies out there, I want to be out there with them.
"When I come back, we're going to be roasting people."
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