Article: Kobe injury update and post Nets game thread
By Elliott Teaford on March 27, 2009 9:19 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kobe Bryant said he jammed his right ankle rather than rolling it after crashing into Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets, spraining it late in the second quarter of the Lakers' victory tonight. He said his ankle "burned" after the game. He also vowed to play in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the fifth stop on the Lakers' seven-game trip.
Bryant suffered a dislocated right pinkie when he jammed it on the body of former Nets guard Jason Kidd during the Lakers' victory last season over New Jersey at the Meadowlands. He was supposed to have surgery on it, but declined in order to participate in the Beijing Olympics. He put it off again in order to join the Lakers for the start of training camp.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets, 103-95, and clinched the best record in the Western Conference tonight at the Izod Center. Pau Gasol had a season-high 36 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers (58-14).
Derek Fisher had 18 points. Kobe Bryant had 14 points and nine assists, but suffered a sprained right ankle that forced him to the locker room inside the final minute of the first half. He returned to score 12 points in the third quarter. He also left the game with only a few seconds left in the game to begin treatment. Vince Carter led the Nets with 20 points.
"We're not going to pat ourselves on the back," Lamar Odom said after the Lakers won the West for the second straight season. "We're on a mission and that's to get back to the playoffs and do well in the playoffs and hopefully advance to the championship round."
Reporting from East Rutherford, N.J. — The Lakers had a brief scare, and it had nothing to do with another large lead disappearing.
Kobe Bryant went down after a collision and stayed there for a minute before walking slowly to the locker room near the end of the second quarter Friday against the New Jersey Nets.
Luckily for the Lakers, he returned to start the third quarter.
Luckily for Bryant, he had Pau Gasol as a teammate.
Bryant wasn't stopped by a sprained right ankle, and Gasol wasn't stopped by anybody on the Nets, scoring a season-high 36 points to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers clinched the top seeding for the Western Conference playoffs with a 103-95 victory over the Nets at the Izod Center.
The Lakers (58-14) breezed through another city on their seven-game trip and moved to 4-0, three victories away from being the first team to ever sweep a trip of that length.
There's a lot to do between now and then, including daily injury updates on Bryant, who was hurt after colliding with Nets guard Devin Harris with 55.2 seconds left in the second quarter. Bryant was called for a charge on the play, and Harris fell on his ankle.
Bryant taped it up and returned in the third quarter, where he scored 12 points on four-for-eight shooting. He finished with 14 points on uncharacteristically poor five-for-19 shooting.
"It was just burning, a lot of burning," Bryant said of the ankle. "I didn't roll it or anything like that. A guy just landed on it, jammed it. It's more a tendon than anything. Just trying to get the tendon to calm down, trying to let it not swell up too much."
He laughed when asked if there was only a 50% chance he would play Sunday against Atlanta.
"You know I'm playing," he said. "It's just a matter if I'm playing [poorly] or playing good to help the team out. I'll be ready to go."
Gasol will be there as well, despite playing almost 45 minutes against New Jersey.
His 17-footer gave the Lakers a 97-90 lead with 1:21 to play, and his baseline dunk pretty much wrapped up the game, providing a 101-95 lead with 31.4 seconds left.
He was dominant, deft and very efficient, making 14 of 19 shots.
"That's the way I like to describe myself -- an efficient player," Gasol said. "I try to be effective, try to contribute in different ways because I think I can. It's nothing too spectacular, nothing too crazy, but it's just efficient and productive."
The Lakers weren't always productive Friday, losing most of a 14-point second-quarter lead by halftime and most of a 22-point third-quarter lead midway through the fourth quarter. They can blame their reserves for a poor showing.
But win the Lakers did, guaranteeing themselves home court throughout the Western playoffs.
"We're fortunate," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We didn't have a whole lot of injuries outside of Andrew [Bynum] this year that limited us. We had some momentum and kept it this year."
On the other hand, this is still only the regular season, as Bryant pointed out when he said he was "not really" excited to clinch the West's top seeding.
"It's a good accomplishment, but we have a lot of work ahead of us," he said.
Along the way, Jackson coached his 728th game with the Lakers, passing Pat Riley for most games coached in franchise history.
"I don't know if that's an honor or detriment," Jackson said, smiling. "I'm sure it's an honor -- longevity has something to do with it -- but I've been telling Jeanie [Buss] she saddled me with this job for the last three or four years, so I've accepted it willingly."
Buss is Jackson's longtime girlfriend and a Lakers executive.
Jackson's achievement was one of many Friday for the Lakers. Maybe there will be others between now and June.