Kobe expects to play despite badly swollen foot

NEW ORLEANS – Kobe Bryant(notes) walked out of New Orleans Arena on crutches with a swollen left foot, but the Lakers guard is hopeful he'll play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Bryant suffered the injury after falling awkwardly and colliding into Hornets guard Willie Green(notes) with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 93-88 loss in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series Sunday night. A Lakers spokesman said a decision on whether to give Bryant an MRI will be made on the flight to Los Angeles early Monday morning.

Bryant said he would get medical treatment the entire flight and was concerned of more swelling on the lengthy ride.

"I should play," Bryant said, while sitting on a training table in the visiting locker room. "It’s going to take a lot to stop me from playing."

Bryant played in all 82 games in the regular season and entered the playoffs feeling healthy. After going scoreless in the first half Sunday, he finished Game 4 with 17 points (on 5-of-18 shooting from the field), eight assists and six rebounds in 36 minutes. Bryant returned to the floor after taking a brief rest following the injury, but that didn’t stop his foot from swelling badly after the game.

"The adrenaline was still pumping and the blood was still flowing," Bryant said. "And then when you go in and take the [shoe] off, it just [swells] and you feel it."

Bryant is averaging a team-best 23 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in four games this playoff series. If he can’t play, the Lakers could turn to reserve shooting guard Shannon Brown(notes). He is averaging 4.8 points in four games against the Hornets.

"I’m concerned as I am about any injury, but I’ve played through so many of them," Bryant said. "It kind of becomes old hat to me."