Kobe Bryant pushed his fraying body and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates relentlessly through the second half of a vital game until he felt...
LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant pushed his fraying body and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates relentlessly through the second half of a vital game until he felt a searing pain in his left heel.
Bryant’s Achilles’ tendon apparently is torn. His season likely is over.
And though the Lakers held on to beat Golden State, Bryant thinks they’ll have to continue their playoff chase without their leader.
Bryant scored 34 points while playing much of the second half in obvious pain with an injured left leg, eventually leaving with 3:06 to play in the Lakers’ 118-116 win over the Warriors on Friday night.
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Bryant hyperextended his left knee early in the half, but didn’t come out while the Lakers chased a victory they needed to stay one game ahead of Utah for the eighth playoff spot in the West. Bryant said he hurt himself more seriously on a move he’s made countless times while driving to the hoop.
He got the ball on the perimeter, stuck out his leg and pushed off his left foot to drive past Harrison Barnes. Bryant didn’t make it two steps before he fell to the court in obvious pain while Barnes was called for a foul, but Bryant stayed in the game long enough to hit his free throws before trainer Gary Vitti helped him to the locker room.
“I can’t walk,” Bryant said solemnly, leaning on crutches in the Lakers’ locker room. “I tried to maybe put pressure on my heel, but there was nothing there.”
Immediately after the game, the Lakers announced Bryant probably had a torn tendon. He will have an MRI exam Saturday, but Bryant knows the injury is likely to end his season.
Bryant called it the most disappointing injury of his career “by far. We worked so hard to put ourselves in position and control our fate.”
“I hate it for Kobe,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I hate it for us. I hate it for L.A., but you have to close ranks. There’s no going back now. … He’s just an unbelievable player with a heart, and it is unbelievable.”
After playing all 48 minutes while scoring 47 points in Portland on Wednesday, Bryant pushed the Lakers relentlessly forward on one good leg against the playoff-bound Warriors. Golden State got 47 points from Stephen Curry in a dynamic performance, but Bryant led a 9-0 run by hitting consecutive three-pointers to tie it at 107 with 3:47 left.
Moments later, his season likely ended.
Los Angeles (43-37) stayed a game ahead of Utah (42-38) in the Western Conference with two games to go. The Jazz hold the tiebreaker.
“He’s the greatest competitor, and he’s been that all season long, all through his career,” said Gasol, who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth career triple-double. “He’s been an example for us throughout all this. He showed character. He showed heart, and that’s what we’re going to need from now on.”
• Deron Williams had 33 points and 14 assists, and Brooklyn secured home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 117-108 win over host Indiana.
• The NBA fined Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant $25,000 for making a “menacing gesture,” when he pretended to slice his throat after throwing down a big dunk during the Thunder’s victory Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.
• Milwaukee was missing two starters, guard Brandon Jennings (Achilles) and center Larry Sanders (sore back), in the Bucks’ 108-105 loss to Atlanta.