By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers came into Atlanta with a four game win streak and it sounded like they would have it easy as it was announced that Josh Smith would miss the game due to a sprained knee. That was not the case, the Hawks beat the Lakers 96 to 92. Not only did the Lakers lose the game but they also suffered an injury. Kobe Bryant had trouble shooting tonight but put in 31 points and almost had another late heroic performance to lead the Lakers over Atlanta but fell short.
Kobe went up for a jumper to tie the game but fell missed and landed on Dahntay Jones’ foot. Kobe had x-rays after the game which came out negative. It was announced that he had suffered a severe left ankle sprain and would be out indefinitely. Bryant after the game told reporters that referees need to do a better job of protecting shooters. He also tweeted out saying “#dangerousplay that should have been called Period.” Kobe has played through injuries numerous times but when asked about the injury he said it was his worst pain since back in 2000. Dahntay Jones also tweeted after the game saying “Tape doesn’t lie. Ankle was turned on the floor after the leg kick out that knocked him off balance. I would never try to hurt the man.” Back in 2009 Jones received a flagrant 1 foul for tripping Bryant in a playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. The following is a clip from that play:
Now the injury happened right before the end of the game. There is no excuse for the Lakers losing this game especially playing an Atlanta Hawk team missing one of their best players in Josh Smith. Luckily for the Lakers, the Utah Jazz also lost their game to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 87 to 110. With both teams losing, the standings stay the same with the Lakers a half game over the Jazz in the 8th playoff spot.
Kobe’s injury might require him to miss a game or more. It is fair to say he should miss at least a game to rest and heal up. Aside from Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the upcoming schedule for the purple and gold should not be too difficult, but who knows if the Lakers will continue to make games that should be won easy look hard. The schedule includes teams like the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. If Kobe needed to rest and heal an injury this would be the best time to do it.
The problem here is if the rest of the players on the team would step up to the plate. A team that has Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace in the starting line up alone should be able to win against the teams coming up, not including the Pacers of course. If Kobe were to miss a few games, Dwight Howard needs to be the Dwight Howard that showed up in Orlando just the other day. Steve Nash is not the same guy that played in a Sun’s uniform but he can still take over a game and needs to do so.
The Lakers are finally sitting in a playoff spot, for now. They need to find ways other than Bryant to make their playoff push. They have been hit with injuries all season and cannot seem to catch a break. With Pau Gasol possibly coming back next week maybe he can try and take some of the load off Kobe. For now we will have to wait and see if Kobe does need to take a game or more off. If he does, will Dwight, Nash and the rest of the team be able to keep it together?