With Kobe set to return on Tuesday, hopefully the rest did him good.

L.A. Times: The Lakers are half a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA, gaining ground even with Kobe Bryant missing the last five games with a sprained left ankle.
But in the Lakers’ own Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets lurk, having pulled to within five games of L.A. for the best record in the West after beating the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Even though the Nuggets have defeated the Lakers twice this season and have the attitude that they can compete with and may even be as good as the Lakers, Los Angeles isn’t looking behind at Denver.

Rather, the Lakers are more concerned with themselves.

They didn’t practice Sunday, but the Lakers got some good news when Bryant practiced Saturday and said his hope is to play Tuesday when they visit Memphis. The Lakers are 4-1 without Bryant.

“Some of these guys’ sentiment is that they think Utah is going to outplay Denver,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “They are right there, aren’t they?”

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