National Basketball Association
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                   === No Kobe as Lakers visit Sacramento ===
 (  -  Kobe Bryant's return to  the Los Angeles Lakers took a
 backseat and it's unknown when the five-time NBA champion will debut.
 Bryant  was reportedly  set to return Friday against the Sacramento Kings, but
 will  stay  in Los  Angeles  for  an  individual  workout, according  to  team
 spokesman John Black Wednesday via the L.A. Times.
 "He  absolutely  won't play Friday,"  Black said. "He  won't be going with the
 team and will instead stay in L.A. for an individual workout."
 The  NBA's MVP  in  2008 is  recovering  from  a torn  Achilles  and has  been
 practicing with his team. Bryant could return Sunday versus Toronto.
 "He  looked  pretty good, really good  actually," Lakers center Pau Gasol said
 Tuesday. "You can tell he's been working a lot on his own. He looked in a good
 rhythm  and knows what he's doing out there. I think he looked really good and
 I look forward to tomorrow's practice."
 L.A.  is well  rested and  looking to  get its  leader back  after dropping  a
 114-108  decision to  the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. The Lakers had won
 two  straight and five of six games, but couldn't slow down one of the hottest
 teams in the league thus far.
 Xavier  Henry  scored a career-high 27  points to lead the Lakers, Jodie Meeks
 netted  20  and Nick  Young finished with  17 points. Los  Angeles had a 34-20
 advantage  in the fourth  quarter after the Blazers scored 41 of the 65 points
 in the third. The Blazers led by 20 points in the third quarter.
 "Games  like  this you just can't  give away. You  can't start like we did. We
 weren't quite good enough tonight," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said.
 Los Angeles received a huge night from its bench and the reserves lead the NBA
 with 47.7 points per game. Over the last five games, the Lakers' reserves have
 outscored the opposing bench, 252-134.
 Besides  Bryant's  status on the injury  report, Gasol (ankle) and guard Steve
 Blake (elbow) are listed as questionable against Sacramento.
 The  Kings  have had the pleasure  of running through the NBA gauntlet against
 West  powers  the Clippers, Lakers,  Warriors and Thunder.  In a 97-95 loss to
 Oklahoma  City  on Tuesday, Isaiah Thomas  netted 24 points off the bench, Ben
 McLemore had 14 points and Derrick Williams ended with 13.
 Sacramento had a 30-19 advantage in the fourth quarter and almost rallied from
 a  17-point deficit. Thomas scored 21 points in the final stanza and was short
 on a 14-footer at the buzzer.
 "I was aggressive. We got in the bonus early and I was just in attack mode and
 my teammates kept finding me," Thomas said.
 The  Thunder have won  seven straight and 13 of the last 14 against the Kings,
 who are mired in a five-game slide, The Kings have lost three in a row at home
 and  are  just 3-8 in  California's capital city.  Sacramento, which is in the
 midst  of  playing six of  seven games  as the host,  will wrap up a four-game
 homestand Friday night.
 Sacramento's  last  four home games  have been decided  by six points or less,
 while  six  of the previous seven  contests overall have been decided by seven
 points or less.
 Kings  big man  DeMarcus Cousins did not  play versus the Thunder because of a
 sprained  right  ankle and  is probable  versus the  Lakers. Cousins leads the
 Kings  in  scoring (21.7  ppg), rebounding  (10.1 rpg),  steals per game (1.60
 spg)  and blocks per game (1.20 bpg). He has scored 20 or more points in three
 of the last four games he has played in.
 The Kings dropped a 100-86 decision to the Lakers on Nov. 24 at Staples Center
 and  have lost  three in a row and  14 of the past 18 matchups between Pacific
 foes. The Lakers have won six of nine and 10 of their last 14 at Sacramento.
 12/06 10:21:32 ET