BRYANT STILL IFFY AS LAKERS APPROACH SEASON OPENER: EL SEGUNDO (AP) — Kobe Bryant has missed the last week of practice with an injury. His teammates still don't know their new offense. And the Los Angeles Lakers just finished the first winless preseason in franchise history.
Ready or not — and most signs point to not — the Lakers' regular season has arrived.
Bryant sat out Monday while his teammates went through a lengthy workout ahead of Tuesday night's opener against Dallas. It's the first of four games in six days for a star-studded club with championship aspirations, but plenty of work ahead.
"I think all of us are ready (for) the popcorn and the lights to come on tomorrow," said Dwight Howard, who played in just two preseason games while returning deliberately from back surgery. "It's not going to come overnight. We all understand that. We just have to stay patient through the whole process. We have to keep working, and we'll be fine."
Bryant might not be fine for a bit longer. The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history is resting his right foot, which was bruised and strained last week, and the Lakers won't decide whether he'll play against the Mavericks until game time.
BENNETEAU DOWNS TROICKI 6-4, 7-5 AT PARIS MASTERS: PARIS (AP) — Julien Benneteau was among three French winners in the opening round of the Paris Masters on Monday, downing Victor Troicki of Serbia 6-4, 7-5 to set up a match against countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Benneteau broke twice in each set despite Troicki serving 14 aces.
The other local winners were Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire. Simon beat 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 7-5, 6-1, and Paire defeated Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
Tsonga, seeded sixth and the 2008 champion, is among the favorites for the event.
Novak Djokovic might withdraw to ensure he is fit for the World Tour Finals in London next week. The Serb, who has clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking, canceled a meet-and-greet session with fans on Monday saying he wasn't "feeling well."
The tournament is already without defending champion Roger Federer, who pulled out Sunday to rest before the season-ending event.
U.S. Open winner Andy Murray, who recently lost the Shanghai Masters final to Djokovic, will play on Wednesday and is feeling fit.
BRONCOS SURVIVE SCARE WITH PEYTON MANNING'S THUMB: ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Peyton Manning counts himself fortunate. Consider his team furious.
Manning acknowledged he was "probably a little bit lucky" that he banged the right thumbnail and not the knuckle of his throwing hand on New Orleans defensive end Martez Wilson's helmet Sunday night.
It's what happened a split-second later that has the Broncos miffed.
The crown of Wilson's helmet smacked into Manning's chin, a play the Broncos are expected to have the league look at this week.
Although no flag was thrown, it was similar to the illegal hit last month that cost Broncos linebacker Joe Mays a $50,000 fine and a one-game suspension for blasting Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
"It'll be something we look at and get the TV copy," Broncos coach John Fox said Monday. "We haven't done all that yet. And I'm not really able to comment on what we turn into the league and what we don't, but that's one we'll look at closely."
In all likelihood, so will the NFL and the result could be a hefty fine for Wilson, a backup on a team that's been dogged by turmoil all season after the NFL penalized the franchise for running a money-for-hits bounty pool.
Unlike Schaub, who lost a chunk of his left ear when his helmet went flying after Mays' hit, Manning's helmet stayed on after he was sandwiched by Wilson and strong safety Roman Harper on a blitz just as he released a 23-yard pass that Eric Decker caught along the left sideline in the first half of Denver's 34-14 win.
WORLD SERIES AVERAGES RECORD LOW TELEVISION RATING: NEW YORK (AP) — The San Francisco Giants' sweep of the Detroit Tigers set a record low for the World Series' television ratings.
The four games on Fox averaged a 7.6 rating and 12 share, Nielsen Media Research said Monday. The previous low was an 8.4 for the 2008 Phillies-Rays and 2010 Giants-Rangers series, which each went five games.
Last year's Cardinals-Rangers World Series went the full seven games and built momentum to average a 10.0/16.
San Francisco's 2-0 win in Game 3 on Saturday night earned a 6.1/11, down from a 6.6/12 for St. Louis' 16-7 win over Texas in the third game last year and matching the lowest for any World Series game. Philadelphia's 5-4 win in Game 3 in 2008 also had a 6.1 rating on a night a rain delay pushed the start after 10 p.m. on the East Coast and the game didn't end until 1:47 a.m.