Wonky knee puts Kobe back on the side­lines

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Los An­ge­les

Kobe Bryant is ex­pected to miss about six weeks with an in­jured left knee — the sec­ond ma­jor in­jury set­back of the year for the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers’ su­per­star guard.

An MRI exam on Thurs­day re­vealed Bryant has a frac­ture in his lat­eral tib­ial plateau — the top of his shin­bone, near his knee.

Bryant made his sea­son de­but with the Lak­ers on Dec 8 af­ter nearly eight months away while re­cov­er­ing from a torn Achilles ten­don.

He ap­par­ently was hurt again on Tues­day night in Mem­phis while play­ing his fourth game in five nights.

Af­ter play­ing six games in 10 days, the fourth-lead­ing scorer in NBA his­tory is out again un­til Fe­bru­ary or longer — ex­tend­ing the Lak­ers’ al­ready mis­er­able run of in­juries well into the new year.

“You hate it for Kobe,” Lak­ers coach Mike D’An­toni said af­ter Thurs­day’s prac­tice. “He’s worked so hard to get back, but he’ll be back. He’ll be back in six weeks. We’ve just got to weather the storm un­til he re­turns.”

The Lak­ers also an­nounced Steve Nash will be out for at least four more weeks with nerve root ir­ri­ta­tion, leav­ing in­jury-rid­dled Los An­ge­les with­out its top three point guards and Bryant — who filled in at the point in re­cent games — for at least another week.

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, a tweet was posted on Bryant’s of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count that con­sisted solely of the hash­tag: Bro­ken­Not­Beaten.

“I think he’ll be back in six weeks, and he’ll be hunt­ing for some bear,” D’An­toni said.

The rest of the Lak­ers found out about Bryant’s in­jury af­ter prac­tice for Fri­day’s home game against Min­nesota.

The rem­nants of the Lak­ers, who have lost four of six since Bryant’s re­turn, will host Mi­ami on Christ­mas Day.

“It’s hard to get this type of news, es­pe­cially when we’ve al­ready got so many in­juries, when we’ve been through so many in­juries the year be­fore,” Pau Ga­sol said.

“It just keeps pil­ing up. It’s not the best thing for us, for sure, but we’ve just got to con­tinue to go for­ward. We un­der­stand it can hap­pen.”

D’An­toni im­me­di­ately faced ques­tions about whether the Lak­ers al­lowed Bryant to re­turn too quickly from his torn Achilles ten­don. Ath­letes with an Achilles in­jury must re­main im­mo­bile for months and typ­i­cally need sev­eral weeks to re­gain mus­cle in their legs and get back into game shape.

Bryant pushed him­self to re­turn to the Lak­ers quickly, but his left leg ap­peared to be vis­i­bly smaller than his right leg af­ter months of in­ac­tiv­ity and at­ro­phy.

D’An­toni and the Lak­ers’ top brass of­ten joke about their in­abil­ity to con­trol Bryant’s re­lent­less de­ter­mi­na­tion to play, even at the risk of his own health.

“It could hap­pen at any time,” D’An­toni said of Bryant’s lat­est in­jury. “That’s part of it. There’s al­ways go­ing to be a risk un­til he gets used to play­ing, but the doc­tors are all over it. That’s just bad luck.”

Los An­ge­les signed Bryant to a lav­ish two-year, $48.5 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion last month, tak­ing him into his 20th sea­son with the Lak­ers. Most of Los An­ge­les’ ros­ter will be free agents this sum­mer.

Mean­while, the 39-year-old Nash, who has been in­jured for most of his two sea­sons in Los An­ge­les, won’t be back any time soon.

The two- time NBA MVP has played in just six games this sea­son and hasn’t suited up since Nov 10, re­peat­edly trav­el­ing home to Van­cou­ver to un­dergo re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on his back and ham­strings.


Kobe Bryant of the LA Lak­ers drib­bles past Mem­phis Griz­zlies’ Ja­maal Franklin dur­ing their NBA clash in Mem­phis on Tues­day.

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