What Kobe Bryant described as the “worst injury he’s suffered since the 2000 NBA Finals”, didn’t even keep the Lakers star out of action for one game.
Just 48 hours after severely spraining his left ankle during the closing seconds of Wednesday night’s road loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Bryant was back on the court for Los Angeles in an all-important matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
Considering how swollen his ankle was just one day after suffering the injury, it was pretty amazing to see Kobe be able to walk, let alone play.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013
Bryant played all 12 minutes of the first quarter, missing all four of his shots from the field. He also had one rebound and two assists.
He wouldn’t be heard from for the rest of the night, as he was physically unable to keep playing on his swollen ankle.
Kobe told D’Antoni after the 1st Q that he just couldn’t go anymore. Tells you that the ankle was really, really hurting.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 16, 2013
It’s not as if his teammates needed much from him on this night, as Los Angeles ultimately prevailed, knocking off Indiana by a final score of 99-93. The Lakers have gone 8-6 in their last 14 road games, after starting the season 5-15.
Dwight Howard led all Lakers scorers with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots. The team also got some major contributions from its second-unit, as guard Steve Blake and veteran forward Antawn Jamison lit it up from downtown, combining for nine three-pointers and 35 points.
The Indiana Pacers are no slouch (second in Eastern Conference), so the Lakers defeating a team of that caliber away from Staples Center with Bryant on the sidelines has to be taken as a good sign moving forward.
I can appreciate Kobe’s toughness and his willingness to help his team, even though he is clearly in a great deal of pain. He’s a leader in every sense of the word. He’s not the kind of player that can just sit back and watch as his team scratches and claws to move up the standings in the Western Conference. Hell, there is still a chance the Lakers could move down and miss out on the postseason entirely.
However, he needs to air more on the side of caution and sit out the next few games to give his ankle a chance to heal properly. Their next three games are against the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, all of which rank in the bottom-third of the league. Nothing is a given, but L.A should be able to handle the next week without its star player.
Trying to go against the Pacers on Friday was admirable, but who knows what kind of further damage Bryant may have done.
The Lakers need the “Black Mamba”, but they don’t need him right now. There are 15 games remaining on the schedule, so there is still enough time to change their destiny as far as making the playoffs and getting a decent enough first-round matchup.
For now, just sit back, rest up and heal.