Kobe Bryant met the media Monday with a new companion — an electronic stimulating device hooked up to his sore lower back.
Plans call for the two to spend a lot of time together for the next couple of days, or longer.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ star tweaked his back in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 123-115 overtime loss at Utah that tied the Western Conference semifinals 2-2.
“It’s pretty sore right now,” Bryant said Monday. “It’s tight. It’s to be expected the next day, I guess. I don’t know how I made it through the game, to be honest with you.”
Bryant said he was receiving treatment around the clock.
“Secret stuff,” he replied with a smile when asked to be specific about the treatment.
Regarding the electronic stimulating device, Bryant said he had slept with it on Sunday night.
“It cuts down the pain,” he said. How, I don’t know.”
The teams play Game 5 in the best-of-seven series Wednesday night at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 16-3 against the Jazz since the arena opened before the 1999-2000 season.
Bryant said he was just glad Game 5 wasn’t being played Tuesday.
“It was give me another day to recuperate,” he said. “I’ll be ready to play. I can’t imagine it being any worse than it was last night.”
Bryant conducted his post-game news conference standing up because of the discomfort in his back.
“I had to keep my poise to keep from yelling all kind of curse words,” he said.
Bryant shot just 13-for-33 including 1-for-7 in overtime while scoring 33 points.
“I just couldn’t elevate, get enough space to knock down a jump shot,” he said. “When you have a back injury, you try not to re-injure it. I rarely hurt my back, I remember one time when I was 21.”
When asked if perhaps he shouldn’t have taken so many shots in overtime, what with the sore back, Bryant replied: “I got some pretty good looks, they didn’t fall for me.”
Pau Gasol, for one, had no problem with Bryant’s aggressiveness in the overtime period.
“He’s so competitive, he demands the ball no matter what he’s feeling,” Gasol said. “He never hides. I respect the fact that he was playing. It’s hard to play with back problems. He played through it. We all have our injuries and things that bother us. We’re all going to have to tough it out, man up and win.”
Derek Fisher acknowledged the Lakers got away from what had been successful late in the fourth quarter, when they rallied from a 12-point deficit to force overtime.
“He did a great job of creating opportunities for other people down the stretch,” Fisher said. “That’s what we got away from in overtime.”
Several members of the Jazz said they weren’t aware Bryant was hurting until after the game, and expect him to be at full strength in Game 5.
“If he puts on his uniform and plays, don’t worry about him being hurt,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said Monday. “You’d better be ready to play the guy because he’s a great player and he’s got the ability to bury you in a lot of different ways. That’s what (great players) can do.”
Utah’s Carlos Boozer said he thought Bryant seemed OK when he had the possession of the ball.
“Kobe’s going to play,” Boozer said. “When he has the ball in his hands, he’s going to be the same guy he’s been. He has the same mentality. That’s the biggest thing about Kobe Bryant. He has the same mind-set no matter what’s ailing his body.
“I’m not worry about it,” Boozer told reporters in Salt Lake City. “You guys are. We’re going to prepare for him like he’s 100 percent.”
Said Deron Williams: “I think Kobe’s going to be Kobe when it comes Wednesday. I’m not going to expect anything else.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he wasn’t concerned about Bryant.
“Yes and yes,” the coach replied when asked if he expected Bryant to play and be efficient in Game 5. “I have nothing to do with his recovery. I’ve got to prepare this team to play.”
When asked what he was thinking, Jackson replied: “How we’re going to remedy what happened in the last two games.”
The Jazz had an NBA-best 37-4 record at home during the regular season, but the Lakers rallied in both games before falling short.
“We’ve got a couple players that have to contribute,” Jackson said. “They have to work on their game and get their confidence back.”
Jackson wouldn’t be more specific, but he could have been referring to starting forward Vladimir Radmanovic, who 4-for-13 for a total of 10 points in the two games in Utah, and backup guard Jordan Farmar, who went 0-for-8 in being blanked.
Meanwhile, Black said general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke Monday with NBA disciplinarian Stu Jackson about Lakers reserve Ronny Turiaf, who was ejected early in the second quarter for committing a flagrant foul against Utah’s Ronnie Price.
“We’ll be shocked if there’s a suspension,” Black said.