Bryant out five games with injury
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 10:55 p.m.
LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant will miss at least five games with a severely sprained right ankle, but the Los Angeles Lakers said Friday they won't know exactly how long he'll be out for another 72 hours.
Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said Bryant, hurt in the first quarter of Thursday night's game against Cleveland, would be placed on the injured list and replaced on the roster by rookie guard Tony Bobbitt before tonight's game at Golden State.
An MRI exam Friday confirmed Bryant has a severely sprained ankle. The Lakers said he'll be re-evaluated Monday and an estimate on how long he'll be sidelined will be given at that time.
Bryant is the NBA's second-leading scorer with a 27.5-point average. He was injured when he landed on Ira Newble's right foot while going for a rebound under the Cavaliers' basket.
''We will miss him greatly, but this is an opportunity to grow as a team,'' Tomjanovich said before the Lakers flew to Oakland for their game against the Warriors.
''It puts a way bigger burden on me. We know Lamar (Odom) will get more plays, but I've got to call these things for other guys and get people in the right positions, because Kobe was in those positions and he carried a lot of the load.''
Odom scored 24 points to equal a season-high in the Lakers' 98-94 victory over the Cavaliers, raising their record to 19-15.
Regarding Bryant's injury, Tomjanovich said: ''It happens all the time in this league. You ever play poker? You take the hand you're dealt and you play with it. You don't worry about what if I've gotten this or what if I've gotten that.''
When asked what kind of hand he had, Tomjanovich laughed: ''I'm not giving up my cards,'' he said.
X-rays taken shortly after Bryant was injured were normal, but after the game he said he knew the injury was serious.
''This one might be weeks - it doesn't feel like a day-to-day thing,'' Bryant said late Thursday. ''It hurts, it hurts a lot. It's the worst one I've ever had. I am in a lot of pain right now. I am just trying to stay off of it right now.''
''Crunching and instant throbbing'' is how Bryant described his immediate feeling.
''The worst it can get is that I have a couple tears in there. It's not season-ending by any means,'' he said. ''It is just rest and recuperation and I am happy about that. I am happy it's just an MRI and there is no fracture or anything like that. I just need to rest. The guys will hold down the fort, I have no doubt.''
Bryant, 26, has played in every Lakers game this season despite having soreness in his left foot due to plantar fasciitis. He entered Thursday night's game averaging an NBA-leading 43.1 minutes per game.
Bryant grabbed his ankle in obvious pain upon hitting the floor. Teammate Brian Grant and trainer Gary Vitti helped him off the court and into the Staples Center tunnel, where Grant and injured Los Angeles forward Devean George carried him into the locker room.
''He went up for the rebound and I kind of nudged him a little bit by mistake and basically fell into him as my momentum was going that way,'' Newble said. ''I was trying to catch myself and he came down on his ankle funny. It's just an accident.''
Bryant had two points and three assists before leaving.
''They just gutted it out,'' Bryant said of his teammates. ''They stepped up and were really aggressive and assertive. It was a great all-around game.''
Bryant signed a seven-year, $136.4 million contract last summer to stay with the rebuilt Lakers, who traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami and Gary Payton to Boston. Karl Malone, Derek Fisher and coach Phil Jackson also left.
''Kobe brings a lot and not one guy can replace him, but collectively a group of guys can really make it happen,'' said Caron Butler, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Cavaliers.
The good news is the Lakers' upcoming schedule - following their game at Golden State, they play nine straight games at Staples Center.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article