Outlet Pass: Kobe Errupts, Loul’s Leg + Nellie Speaks

“Kobe Bryant hasn’t been overly cordial this week, slipping out a side door after the Lakers lost Monday in Portland, preferring the silence of an empty team bus over extended postgame analysis. He also declined to speak to reporters after a Wednesday afternoon shoot-around, furthering the notion that he was all business these days. In other words, it was a bad idea for Houston forward Ron Artest to start trash-talking to him during Wednesday night’s game. Bryant responded by scoring 13 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth as the short-handed Lakers held off the Rockets, 102-96, at the Toyota Center. A few years ago, Bryant pleaded with the Lakers’ front office to trade for Artest. On Wednesday, he merely seemed offended by Artest’s in-game antics, calling the dialogue “edgy” and scoffing when asked about their one-on-one “battle.” “It wasn’t much of a battle . . . I kicked his . . . ,” Bryant said. “We’ve had some battles in the past and he’s gotten the best of me a few times. [Wednesday], I got the best of him.”
Los Angeles Times


“Luol Deng’s injured right tibia could have international ramifications. Britain granted Deng’s family asylum when it fled war-torn Sudan, and Deng has become the face of Britain’s national team as it tries to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. Last summer Deng helped Britain qualify for EuroBasket 2009, critical games in Poland in September.Even if Deng is able to avoid surgery for his stress fracture, he will have to manage his health this off-season. “I’ll have to be smart about whatever I do,” Deng said.”
Chicago Tribune 


“Nearly a week after his opt-out-or-else tete-a-tete with Jamal Crawford became public, Warriors coach Don Nelson finally came clean over the details of their conversation. “I’ve always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year,” Nelson said Wednesday, two days after refusing to go into specifics. “That’s a fact and I just don’t see that that’s going to work. I’m loaded in the backcourt. If I’m going to move (Stephen) Jackson into the backcourt now, I’m really overloaded. I think he’s too good a player to be a 10- or 15-minute player, as a backup player.” 
San Francisco Chronicle 


“Carlos Delfino has arranged his departure from Khimki for $500,000, but expects a higher offer to return to the NBA – the Knicks or the Raptors would be interested,” said Carlos Cerisola yesterday, its representative in Argentina.”
La Nacion 


“Drew Gooden, the power forward who became a Spur when he signed a free agent contract a week ago, also participated in on-the-court drills for the first time since joining the team. The 6-foot-10 veteran has been working with Brungardt and assistant strength coach Chris White to strengthen groin and abdominal muscles that have limited him most of the season.”
San Antonio Express-News