A few thoughts:
- Dahntay Jones definitely got under Kobe Bryant as he came down following what would have been a game-tying fadeaway jumper along the right baseline Wednesday night in Atlanta. Bryant turned his right ankle, spraining it, and is out “indefinitely.”
- I have no way of knowing if Jones intended to hurt Kobe on the play. Jones says he didn’t, and even Bryant wasn’t willing to make that contention, as ESPNLA’s Dave McMenamin notes. But whether he did or didn’t doesn’t make the play any less dangerous.
- What happened on that play and the potential consequences going forward regarding Kobe’s availability and overall health is a great example letting games against lesser teams go down to the final moments is such a bad idea. Weird, unpleasant things can happen, and not just regarding the final score. I know the Lakers were on the wrong end of a back-to-back, but Tuesday’s game in Orlando wasn’t all that burly, nor was the trip to Atlanta particularly long. They just didn’t play well, Kobe very much included, against a severely depleted Hawks team. The Lakers put themselves in a bad spot, and got burned.
- Setting the injury aside for a moment, Wednesday’s game was a great example of why the Lakers will enter the playoffs at a major disadvantage over their opponents, even if the roster is healthy. The process of getting into the dance — which thanks to more wins and Utah’s total collapse looks very likely (though losses like Wednesday’s could play large into the seeding question)– will have a physical cost. You could see it in Kobe’s legs, particularly. They’ve essentially been playing playoff games for five or six weeks now, and it shows. Not saying the Lakers are incapable of winning, just that they’ll have a lot to overcome.
- The silver lining: Even if Kobe misses Friday’s game in Indiana and a few more after, the Lakers still are a good bet to finish in the top eight, because the Good Ship Jazz has hit the iceberg, is taking on water fast, and doesn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone on board. Meanwhile, a week on the sidelines would probably do Bryant a lot of good, allowing other injuries to heal up.