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Mike D'Antoni expects Kobe Bryant to start against Pacers

Kobe Bryant sprained his left ankle on Wednesday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Kobe Bryant will be a game-time decision on Friday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Kobe Bryant will be a game-time decision with a sprained left ankle when the Lakers face the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night, but Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni indicated in his pre-game comments that he believes Bryant will start, according to Lakers.com.

The injury occurred in the closing seconds of a Wednesday night loss to the Hawks. Bryant came down as Dahntay Jones slid underneath him while defending a fadeaway jumper. The Lakers initially listed Bryant as "out indefinitely" with a "severely" sprained left ankle.

"Ankle still very swollen," Bryant tweeted Thursday. "Treatment all day."

Bryant did not address reporters at the Lakers' Friday shootaround, and D'Antoni told reporters Friday morning that reserve guard Jodie Meeks would start in Bryant's place if he can't play, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Bryant was not on the court for the team’s morning shootaround because he was getting treatment for a severely sprained left ankle and, D’Antoni said, “thinking about” playing.

“Obviously, he’ll get better every day and we’ll just see. When he can go, he’ll go,” D’Antoni added.

The NBA issued a statement Thursday noting that Jones should have been called for a foul on the play.

"After review at the league office, video replay confirmed that referees missed a foul call on Jones as he challenged Bryant’s shot and did not give him the opportunity to land cleanly back on the floor," the league's statement read. "Bryant should have been granted two free throws."

Bryant and Jones engaged in some Twitter back-and-forth regarding the play, with Bryant feeling the undercutting was "dangerous," and Jones stating that he did not intend to injure the Lakers' star. Here's a full breakdown of the incident and the debate.

The Lakers enter Friday night as the Western Conference's No. 8 seed with a record of 34-32. They sit a half-game up on the Jazz in the playoff race.

Bryant, 34, is averaging 27.5 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game this season. He has appeared in all 66 Lakers games so far this season.

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