DENVER -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant played just 11 minutes in Wednesday's 117-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets before leaving with a sore right shoulder, the same injury that had sidelined him in the Lakers' previous two games and has bothered him all season.
Bryant scored five points on 1-of-2 shooting from the field to go along with two rebounds and an assist in his final game against the Nuggets, but the shoulder remains an issue.
"It's really, really achy," Bryant said after the game. "[I've] got a little bit of clicking in it and things like that. Just try to stay on top of it right now."
Bryant, who plans to retire this summer after his 20th season, had surgery on his right shoulder a year ago to repair a torn rotator cuff that sidelined him after 35 games, marking his third straight season-ending injury.
"It's the same as it's always been," Bryant said of managing his shoulder. "A lot of patience and trying to stay with it and try to stay on top of it. Not really much you can do."
Asked if he would consider shutting himself down for a brief period to heal the shoulder, Bryant said, "I can't do that. There's like [20 games] left in the season. As much as I can get out there and play, I'll get out there and play. At Staples [Center], I'm going to have to start ramping it up a little bit and getting out there and playing. It's almost a wrap.
"At the same time, I don't want to do something towards the end and have the shoulder pop out again, and then I'm on the surgery table again or something like that. I don't want that to happen. So we've just got to be smart, but I'll still appreciate the time that I have left."
Lakers starting guard Jordan Clarkson suffered a left knee strain against the Nuggets and left after playing 23 minutes. The Lakers said Clarkson would undergo tests in Los Angeles. An update on Clarkson's status is expected Thursday. Clarkson scored 13 points before suffering his injury.