“We don’t have time for it to heal,” Bryant told ESPN on Wednesday, a day before the Lakers’ showdown with the Celtics  in Boston. “We need some urgency.”
Howard responded Thursday.
“That’s his opinion; that’s it,” Howard told ESPN. “He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
Doc Rivers , obviously aware of this dynamic, figured Bryant’s words would be enough to get Howard back in the lineup Thursday.
“He’s playing,” he said without hesitation. “We’ve only prepared for one way.”
Rivers was right as Howard returned from a three-game absence as he deals with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Just another turn in the NBA’s longest and most prestigious rivalry.
“They still wear that same color. And we wear the same color,” Rivers replied when asked about the current state of the rivalry before Thursday’s game. “Through all of it, it’s still the same thing, you enjoy the game because they are fun. Kobe [Bryant is] there; Kevin [Garnett ] and Paul [Pierce ] are there. It always will be fun.”
Then he threw a good-natured jab at the Lakers.
“It’s more, we’re just playing right now; we’re not dealing with anything,” Rivers said a week after losing Rajon Rondo  and Jared Sullinger. “They have more firestorms going on. Give them credit, they’ve won six out of seven through it. In some ways, it may be helping them.”
Speaking of big men, Rivers said he’s not worried about Kevin Garnett‘s minutes after scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 32 minutes Wednesday in Toronto.
“It’s not a game-to-game thing with Kevin’s minutes, it’s more the accumulative of the year,” Rivers said. “We’ve had eight overtimes, I think, that hasn’t helped at all with him. So it’s just, we get through the year and try to keep him as fresh as possible.”
Meanwhile… Celtics players presented Rivers with the game ball from his 400th regular-season win as Celtics coach on their flight home from Toronto on Wednesday night. Garnett and Pierce were among those to honor Rivers on the flight, something Rivers acknowledged Thursday.
“They were very nice on the plane last night after the game,” Rivers said
There was great irony in how Rivers said thanks on Thursday. Rivers left Georgetown Cupcakes from Newbury Street with personalized notes in each player’s lockers. said Rivers. Asked if this could be interpreted as the coach calling his players “cupcakes,” Rivers laughed and said, “I’ve done that already, that didn’t work.”
Kevin Garnett would most definitely agree.
Rivers all but acknowledged the impending blizzard will cancel plans for Saturday practice.
“It looks like we’re not [going to practice] because of what they are [forecasting].” said Rivers, who lives in Boston and commutes to Waltham for practice. “When I was in Orlando, we didn’t talk a lot about the snowstorms coming up.”