The ball nervously bounced off of the front of the rim as Stephan Curry heaved a last second chance at stealing a W in LA. He didn’t miss many en route to 47 points. Dwight didn’t miss many FTs either, making 14-22, and chipped in 28 points. Pau didn’t mess around getting his 6th career triple-double of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The 118-116 victory, the Lakers 43rd of the season, holds off the Jazz who beat Minnesota earlier in the evening. The Lakers, as expected, were led by Kobe Bryant with 34 points.
Yet, none of that mattered as Kobe dragged himself to the free throw line to tie the game at 109 with 3:08 left in the 4th quarter. He could barely move as he shuffled off of the court and headed directly to the locker room. Reports of a possible torn Achilles in his left foot swirled post game, then were confirmed by the Lakers. He will have an MRI on Saturday to confirm.
The first injury occurred at 10:30 in the 3rd. He attacked the rim and fell to the ground after a Warrior sandwich met him at the rim. He grabbed his left knee and shook it off during a timeout. He continued to play.
Kobe re injured it with 6 minutes in the 3rd quarter while twisting and turning in the lane on a fallaway jump shot attempt. He was fouled and shot his free throws. He remained in the game.
Finally, at the 3:08 mark in the 4th quarter, Kobe said he heard his ankle pop. He referred to the move as one that he had made “…a million times.” When asked during the same post game interview if he could once again rise from the ashes of injury and give it a go, he responded, “I can’t. I can’t walk.”
Time and again in the 3rd and the 4th quarter, MDA could have taken Kobe out to give him a rest, to let Gary Vitti check out the initial knee injury just to make sure everything was okay. With a first-ballot Hall of Famer and Laker legend, the popular perception remains he could not be taken out of the game. However, as a coach, MDA should have insisted, even risked an unfavorable response as his replacement checked in at the scorer’s table for him. He would have drawn the dreaded “Kobe stare.”
Even if Kobe lambasted him in front of the Staples Center crowd as he limped to the bench, a clip that would have dominated all of the sports shows and GIF postings, MDA would have survived the storm. He could have justified it with a simple statement about how Dwight was hitting his free throws and Pau was tearing up the paint or lobbing to Dwight from the high post for jams. He could have said anything he wanted. Instead, he is answering questions about Kobe’s health and likely will be searching for a new job this summer having the run the Lakers’ best player into the ground.