MIAMI — A sore back kept Kobe Bryant out of the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup on Tuesday for the first game that the 20-year veteran dogged by injuries in recent years missed this season.
Bryant was not with the team for its morning shootaround several hours before facing the Miami Heat and knew in the afternoon he wouldn't be able to play. The Lakers started Metta World Peace in Bryant's place and lost 101-88, falling to 1-6 on the season.
Bryant said he was disappointed to be unable to play in what may be his final time in Miami. He is contemplating retirement after the season, and as is the case whenever the Lakers hit the road — especially these days — there were plenty of fans wearing Bryant jerseys.
"If I'm capable of playing, I'm going to get out there and play," Bryant said. "The fans that came out to watch tonight, it's very tough not to be out there."
Bryant suggested that the injury isn't serious, but coach Byron Scott sounded cautious.
"When it's the back you are concerned," Scott said. "He said he wanted to come over and get some treatment to see how he felt before the game. If he can't go, you know he's hurt. The level of concern is pretty up there right now."
The Lakers are in Orlando on Wednesday night. Bryant is averaging 16.5 points this season.
Bryant said even walking is difficult when his back acts up like this, and said it goes back to a problem that first presented itself during training camp last month.
"It's one of those thinking-to-get-out-of-bed sort of things," Bryant said.