The Lakers can't answer one persisting question as they enter their season opener today against the Dallas Mavericks.

Will Kobe Bryant play?

He sat out of his fifth practice Monday since suffering a strained and bruised right foot in the Lakers' exhibition game Oct. 21 against Sacramento. Bryant also missed the team's last two preseason games. And the Lakers are considering him a game-time decision against Dallas.

"He loves the big lights," Lakers forward Metta World Peace said. "He's never been afraid to play hurt and not play well or play hurt and play great."

Bryant hasn't spoken to reporters for a week and sounded in a dour mood last Tuesday when he conceded his foot is "pretty sore." That's why the Lakers are bracing for Bryant's possible absence. Lakers reserve guard Jodie Meeks, who's averaged 5.9 points on 26.7 percent shooting this preseason, played with the first unit during the portion of Monday's practice that was open to the media.

"We would like to have him," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said of Bryant. "But for health issues and reasons, we would be more concerned with not having him later on for a long stretch."