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Bryant arrived hour-plus before game

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant returned from his Colorado court
date in plenty of time to be in the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup for
Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night.

Bryant walked into the locker room at Staples Center shortly
before 5 p.m. PDT -- more than an hour before tipoff, and less than
three hours after he left the courthouse in Eagle, Colo., where he
attended a hearing about his upcoming sexual assault trial.

For the fifth time this season, Bryant went to court during the
day and then flew by private jet back to Los Angeles for a game.
His previous two playoff games under the same conditions were
outstanding: Bryant scored 31 points against the Houston Rockets in
the first round, and 42 points against San Antonio in the second
round.

He also had two big games during the regular season after court
hearings. He missed just one game in Atlanta because of his legal
problems.

"It's not that he's not focused, but long days like that seem
to get him at least more jump-started and focused," teammate Karl
Malone said.

Bryant's next court date is June 21, the day after the last
possible date of an NBA Finals game.

"We're glad for that part," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"We know the ordeal is not over for Kobe. It's nice at least we
have a break, if we're lucky enough to move on. It's still a
concern with Kobe, meaning it's a concern for us."

Bryant has pleaded not guilty to raping a 19-year-old woman at
the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer, saying the two
had consensual sex. If convicted, he faces four years to life in
prison or 20 years to life on probation, and he could be fined up
to $750,000.