Bryant missed the Lakers’ 99-94 loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday while serving his suspension without pay for hitting San Antonio’s Manu Ginobli late in Sunday’s 96-94 overtime loss.
With his team in New York, Bryant requested an immediate hearing with the NBA office to appeal the suspension. The request was denied because it didn’t follow standard procedure.
“I unintentionally caught Manu Ginobili. What do you say? It’s a basketball game,” said Bryant, who is averaging 28.4 points, 5.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds. “You unintentionally catch people with elbows every once in a while.
“It’s just unintentional. I felt horrible about it. It’s just basketball, it happens.”
Bryant scored 40 and 43 points, respectively, in two games against Boston last season. He has also averaged 35.0 points in his last three games overall.
The Lakers could have used Bryant against the Knicks as they lost for the fifth time in six games.
Lamar Odom had 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Los Angeles. Vladimir Radmanovic started for the second straight game in place of the injured Luke Walton (sprained right ankle) and had 18 points and nine rebounds, but the Lakers couldn’t overcome the absence of their superstar.
“I didn’t think about that at all,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of playing without Bryant. “We think about the fact that we should have made some plays down the stretch. You know, there’s a tumbled ball here, there. We just didn’t take care of the ball the right way.”
Boston (12-32) will try to avoid tying a club record with a 13th consecutive loss Wednesday. The record was set during the 1993-94 season and matched in 1996-97.
The Celtics have not won since a 128-119 victory at Memphis on Jan. 5. Their last win at home - where they are 4-17 - was Dec. 15 over the Denver Nuggets.
“I keep hearing these comments from other players on other teams and other coaches that the guys are still playing hard,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s nice, but I would love to play hard and win a game.”
Injuries to key players have played a part in Boston’s slide. Paul Pierce, the team’s leading scorer at 26.6 points per game, has missed the last 20 games with a foot injury.
Al Jefferson had 15 points and 17 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season Tuesday as the Celtics lost 103-96 at Indiana. Boston outscored the Pacers 40-27 in the fourth quarter, but could not rally all the way back from a 20-point deficit.
“Close, but it’s kind of fool’s gold,” Rivers said. “We made a run at the end we got it closer than I’m sure they would have liked it. We had a chance.”
The road team won both meetings between these clubs last season.