Kobe Bryant (shoulder) return

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After his shoulder kept him out of Wednesday night's exhibition loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was able to practice Thursday.

Well, theoretically.

"He was dressed for practice, but we didn't really practice," Lakers coach Mike Brown said jokingly after the Lakers went through a short walk-through Thursday. "He had his jersey on and everything. But I knew today was more of a mental day, so I didn't even really ask (trainer Gary Vitti) what he could and couldn't do."

Brown said he was expecting Bryant to play in the Lakers' exhibition game against the Utah Jazz Saturday night at Staples Center.

Bryant said he thinks he hurt the shoulder Tuesday during practice when he dunked over teammate Antawn Jamison. He said he didn't feel pain at that point and continued to finish the practice.

Bryant then spent another 35 minutes on the court working with assistant coach Phil Handy on shooting and ballhandling drills. Later Tuesday night, though, his shoulder swelled up.

"(Tuesday) night it was very painful," Bryant said Wednesday night. "It hurt to even lay down. But it's a lot better right now."

Bryant had surgery on his right shoulder in 2003, but said this injury is completely unrelated to that one and he doesn't expect to need an MRI.

"I don't need it; it's not that serious," Bryant said.

Third-year guard Jodie Meeks started in Bryant's place Wednesday and would do so again if he missed another game. Brown said Devin Ebanks stood in Bryant's place for parts of practice Thursday.