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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 6th (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) at Sacramento Kings (4-12), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Kobe Bryant's return to the Los Angeles Lakers took a backseat and it's unknown when the five-time NBA champion will debut.

Bryant was reportedly set to return Friday against the Sacramento Kings, but will stay in Los Angeles for an individual workout, according to team spokesman John Black Wednesday via the L.A. Times.

"He absolutely won't play Friday," Black said. "He won't be going with the team and will instead stay in L.A. for an individual workout."

The NBA's MVP in 2008 is recovering from a torn Achilles and has been practicing with his team. Bryant could return Sunday versus Toronto.

"He looked pretty good, really good actually," Lakers center Pau Gasol said Tuesday. "You can tell he's been working a lot on his own. He looked in a good rhythm and knows what he's doing out there. I think he looked really good and I look forward to tomorrow's practice."

L.A. is well rested and looking to get its leader back after dropping a 114-108 decision to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. The Lakers had won two straight and five of six games, but couldn't slow down one of the hottest teams in the league thus far.

Xavier Henry scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Lakers, Jodie Meeks netted 20 and Nick Young finished with 17 points. Los Angeles had a 34-20 advantage in the fourth quarter after the Blazers scored 41 of the 65 points in the third. The Blazers led by 20 points in the third quarter.

"Games like this you just can't give away. You can't start like we did. We weren't quite good enough tonight," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Los Angeles received a huge night from its bench and the reserves lead the NBA with 47.7 points per game. Over the last five games, the Lakers' reserves have outscored the opposing bench, 252-134.

Besides Bryant's status on the injury report, Gasol (ankle) and guard Steve Blake (elbow) are listed as questionable against Sacramento.

The Kings have had the pleasure of running through the NBA gauntlet against West powers the Clippers, Lakers, Warriors and Thunder. In a 97-95 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Isaiah Thomas netted 24 points off the bench, Ben McLemore had 14 points and Derrick Williams ended with 13.

Sacramento had a 30-19 advantage in the fourth quarter and almost rallied from a 17-point deficit. Thomas scored 21 points in the final stanza and was short on a 14-footer at the buzzer.

"I was aggressive. We got in the bonus early and I was just in attack mode and my teammates kept finding me," Thomas said.

The Thunder have won seven straight and 13 of the last 14 against the Kings, who are mired in a five-game slide, The Kings have lost three in a row at home and are just 3-8 in California's capital city. Sacramento, which is in the midst of playing six of seven games as the host, will wrap up a four-game homestand Friday night.

Sacramento's last four home games have been decided by six points or less, while six of the previous seven contests overall have been decided by seven points or less.

Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins did not play versus the Thunder because of a sprained right ankle and is probable versus the Lakers. Cousins leads the Kings in scoring (21.7 ppg), rebounding (10.1 rpg), steals per game (1.60 spg) and blocks per game (1.20 bpg). He has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games he has played in.

The Kings dropped a 100-86 decision to the Lakers on Nov. 24 at Staples Center and have lost three in a row and 14 of the past 18 matchups between Pacific foes. The Lakers have won six of nine and 10 of their last 14 at Sacramento.

12/06 10:26:05 ET

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