Kobe changes tune on his debut

"The process is just getting those games in and getting that basketball rhythm," Bryant said. "That's why we have preseason. I've always had sucky preseasons. Always. It's just a matter of building your legs, finding your rhythm. Now, there's a little more pressure than there is in preseason games, so it requires a bit more work from me in-between games to get ready."

Bryant is selling himself short somewhat. Last preseason, he averaged 20.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 50 percent shooting, playing 26.8 minutes over five games. His last full preseason before that (2011-12 was shortened to two exhibition games because of the lockout and Bryant only played in one of them) was more of the "sucky" variety, as Bryant averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 28.2 percent shooting, playing 21.6 minutes over seven games.

That pressure from a schedule full of meaningful games that Bryant referred to doesn't get any easier. After the Phoenix game, L.A. goes on the road for four games in five nights, starting things off in Oklahoma City on Friday.

"Once you kind of jump into it, you just got to go for it," Bryant said of the trip. "Just take care of your body, get proper rest -- we all do -- and see what we can do."

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