- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2002

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant vomited several times and left practice yesterday to see the Los Angeles Lakers' team doctor, two days after nearly missing a playoff game because of what was believed to be food poisoning.

Fortunately for Bryant and the Lakers, Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Sacramento Kings isn't until tomorrow night at Staples Center.

Bryant was stricken early Monday but scored 22 points in 40 minutes that night in a 96-90 loss at Sacramento that evened the best-of-7 series 1-1. It wasn't a typical Bryant performance. But he seemed fine, albeit weak, after the game and was upbeat on the plane flight home, coach Phil Jackson said.

It was a different story yesterday.

Team spokesman John Black said Bryant left practice several times to vomit and finally went to see Dr. John Moe. Black said it was his understanding that Bryant slept most of Tuesday and ate breakfast Wednesday before heading to practice. Apparently that didn't sit well.

"He was back and forth between the court and the locker room," Black said. "We still think it's food poisoning."

Bryant's illness in Sacramento was blamed on the bacon cheeseburger and cheesecake he ordered late Sunday night from room service. Black said he didn't know what Bryant ate Tuesday.

When asked if he was concerned, Jackson replied, "Not very. Knowing Kobe, he thought that he could jump right back in. His system wasn't ready for that. We're not going to make an issue of that.

"You guys do," he added, referring to the media. "You guys overplay it, OK?"

Jackson said he was optimistic that Bryant would be able to play tomorrow night, adding, "I don't think there's anything that can deter him."

Bryant's teammates said much the same thing, save Shaquille O'Neal, who didn't speak with reporters yesterday.

"I'd be concerned if we had to play tonight, or even tomorrow," Rick Fox said. "I know he'll be fine by Friday.

Said Robert Horry: "We've got until Friday. He's a warrior. He'll be all right."

Sacramento's victory in Game 2 snapped the Lakers' 12-game road winning streak in the playoffs believed to be a record in any major sport. Now Los Angeles will try to hand the Kings their first playoff loss on the road after four victories this spring.

Jackson said nearly three months ago that the Kings hadn't proven they could win on the road. Immediately thereafter, that's exactly what happened.

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