Los Angeles (25-23) at Cleveland (28-20)

Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 42° F
  • Game info: 3:30 pm EST Sun Feb 13, 2005
  • TV: ABC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Lakers are desperate for some kind of spark. They may get a big one Sunday.

Kobe Bryant may make his return to the court when the Lakers visit LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bryant, who is second in the league in scoring with 27.5 points per game, severely sprained his right ankle in the first quarter of the Lakers’ 98-94 win over the Cavaliers on Jan. 13. Los Angeles has gone 6-8 without him.

Bryant practiced Saturday for the first time in four days and told team officials he was about 75 percent. Lakers spokesman John Black said he would be a game-time decision on Sunday.

“The key will be whether it swells up or how sore it gets overnight,” Black said.

Bryant worked out hard with the team on Tuesday, but said he was sore the next day.

The Lakers are in need of help from their star guard. They were not competitive in a 103-81 loss to Detroit on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals, won by the Pistons in five games.

Detroit’s Rasheed Wallace said the Lakers, who lost Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and coach Phil Jackson after the Finals, aren’t even close to being the team he’s used to seeing.

“There’s no comparison,” Wallace said. “It’s two different teams—just same uniforms.”

Lamar Odom scored 17 points and Caron Butler had 12 for Los Angeles, which is 1-4 under interim coach Frank Hamblen.

“We’re looking for something that we can hang our hats on consistently, but we can’t find one,” Hamblen said. “It hurts us to have to search for something every night.”

The Cavaliers have lost three of five, including a 106-101 defeat to Denver on Friday. Bryant attended the game in Cleveland and was booed when he was shown on the scoreboard.

James scored a game-high 35 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 25 and 14 rebounds for the Cavs. James, who has scored at least 30 points 25 times in his two-season career, played for the first time without the protective face mask he had been wearing since being accidentally elbowed in the face by Houston’s Dikembe Mutombo on Dec. 29.

James, who was held to just one rebound and one assist after halftime, said he didn’t ask Cleveland’s medical staff for permission to play without the mask.

“I don’t need anyone to tell me how my face feels,” said James, who said he was going to hang the plastic piece in his home. “I hope I don’t have to use it again.”

The Cavs signed forward Jerome Moiso to a second 10-day contract hours before Friday’s game.

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