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Kobe plays with injured ankle, finishes scoreless as Lakers beat Pacers

Mar 15, 2013, 10:38 PM EDT

Paul George, Kobe Bryant AP

Kobe Bryant surprised many by appearing in the Lakers starting lineup in Indiana on Friday, but the ankle injury he suffered on Wednesday in Atlanta proved to be too limiting for him to do any damage against the Pacers.

Bryant played the entire first quarter, but went 0-4 from the field and asked out of the game after playing its first 12 minutes. He did not return and finished scoreless for the first time since 2004, but the Lakers got scoring from five others who finished in double figures as they beat the Pacers 99-93.

Dwight Howard led L.A. in scoring with 20 points, to go along with 12 rebounds, four assists, and four blocked shots. But the real offensive heroes in this one were Steve Blake, Antawn Jamison, and Metta World Peace, all of whom scored more than expected, and did so while shooting a high percentage.

The Lakers won this one on the strength of their three-point shooting, which has always been a big part of the team’s offense throughout the season, at least in terms of attempts. L.A. ranks third in the league in that category, but is just a middle of the pack squad in terms of the percentage of those shots it gets to go down.

Against the Pacers, the Lakers used dribble penetration from Steve Nash to set up shooters on the perimeter, or post-ups from Howard to do the same as the defense attempted to double.

Given the numbers, Indiana’s defensive plan wasn’t a bad one; the Lakers simply made a higher percentage of long range shots on this night than they have consistently all season. Jamison and Blake combined to shoot 9-14 from beyond the arc, World Peace made two of four, and the Lakers as a team knocked down 13 of 26 from three-point distance.

On the Pacers side, both David West and Roy Hibbert were brutal, combining to go just 7-25 from the field, while finishing with just eight and seven points, respectively. Paul George struggled to score consistently as well, and a huge 31-9 run by the Lakers that lasted from about two and a half minutes to go in the first until there were under three minutes remaining in the half put the Pacers in a tough spot the rest of the way.

It was clear watching Bryant play that the ankle was simply too limiting for him to be able to contribute. None of his four shot attempts were close, and his movement on the perimeter was extremely limited, to the point where he was hurting his team more than he was helping it.

Credit Bryant for mustering the will to play at all with an injury that severe, and credit him even more for knowing after 12 minutes that he was completely ineffective, to the point where he decided to take himself out.

This was a good opportunity for the Lakers to beat a quality team on the road, but on paper, they were supposed to beat the Hawks and they were supposed to lose to the Pacers. Ultimately, the two games ended with L.A. getting the one win that was expected, but the bounce-back effort on a night where Bryant literally provided nothing offensively was impressive nonetheless.

  1. bougin89 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    As a guy that has had many ankle sprains in basketball and one very severe one… hats off to Kobe for playing in this game at all.

    • mazblast - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:35 AM

      Just more KoMe soap opera. He does this at least once a year, the “gutting it out through a ‘severe’ injury” shtick. No one does it more than KoMe, not even Paul “severe knee injury” Pierce.

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        man you have a very negative energy about you.
        you should try yoga.

      • allthewaylive1 - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Tony Parker=Severe ankle sprain
        Kobe Bryant=If he had a severe ankle sprain he was stupid for trying to play on it.

  2. lakerluver - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Huge victory by my beloved LAKERS!! Very proud of them for not throwing in the towel when everything pointed to this game being an L. Jamison, Blake, MWP and D12 all played awesome! Nash ran the show. And Kobe played the role of Willis Reed to perfection! Biggest win of the season!!
    #theLAKERSzealot

    • Andee - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:22 AM

      Fellow Laker fan here, but Willis Reed did that in the NBA finals, not some regular season game against an opponent from the other conference.

      • nbascreed - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        I thought it was apt. The Lakers are not in 3, they’re in 8 by a thread. Kobe knew he couldn’t play but also knew that being on the floor to start the game would give his team a sense of normalcy and quite honestly confidence against a big time team ON THE ROAD. He also knew that he’s teaching Dwight, either for this year or next, that your mind and will have to be stronger than your body to be elite.

        Apparently he’s viewed as obnoxious on this board and I can’t confirm or deny, but prima facie, the comparison is apt.

        ktgotgame.com

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      I have to agree, the Willis Reed comparison was a little too much.
      Everyone recognizes that Mamba ignores injury and pain, he always
      has his BIG boy pants on all the time.

      Lakers have to keep playing like they are in the playoffs now.

  3. decimusprime - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Told ya. Mamba play hurt or injured. Did what he needed to mentally push his guys and the team took care of the rest. Go Lakers Go.

  4. kb2408 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Watching Kobe limp out there to start the game brought a tear to my eye! From now on no Laker player has an excuse for not giving all they have out on the court. And to think some critics suggest Kobe is not a leader. He is a great leader. He leads by example!!

    • badintent - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      please, spare us all the drama BS. He got taped and an injection. any UFC fighter could do the same. Put that game on some soap opera TV. Next.

  5. 13arod - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Wasn’t there alot of people who thought lakers won’t make playoffs i bet you they feel stupied know

    • rvb80 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      Trust me they do not feel stupid because they can at least spell. So sad!

    • boobcok - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      I’d sure feel stupid if I misspelled stupid while calling people stupid.

      • broncobeta - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        “i bet you they feel stupied know”

        So much stupied right know…

    • goobazooka - Mar 16, 2013 at 4:28 AM

      Weren’t* there a lot* of people who thought the* Lakers* wouldn’t* make the* playoffs?* I* bet you they feel stupid* now.*

      You made all those mistakes on purpose, right? You must be trolling, RIGHT?!
      Please, for the love of god and for my faith in the human race, tell me that this was some kind of sick joke.

      • 24thesho - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        It doesn’t matter if “broncobeta” misspelled a word or two in his or her comment; it’s a sports comments page!

    • davidly - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      Why should people go through life feeling stupid just because their evaluation of sports’ teams was less successfully predictive of medium-term results?

      I will grant you that by the end of December, I didn’t think this Lakers team was going to make the playoffs because they were not playing well enough to appear capable of turning it around that sharply.

      And after a 5-11 January, I sure didn’t imagine they’d go 9-3 in February, but there you have it.

      Nevertheless, the failure on any of our parts has just as much to do with assuming that Utah (or any other of the also-rans) would completely tank the second half of the season.

      So I ask you, 13arod, are you declaring yourself a genuis, or will that have to wait until the End of Time–once all of St. Peter’s books are open with the final standings?

  6. chainbuzz - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    Team Kobe-Kai continues it’s comeback! Kobe “Willis Reed” Bryant starts the game in intense pain and plays a quarter, leading his team and instilling them with the steely will and fire to do anything it takes to win! The team responded to Kobe’s iron willed leadership and example with their best collective performance and biggest win of the season! Team Kobe-Kai knew this game was a game they had to have, they knew their fearless leader was down and they had to step up!

    Team Kobe-Kai = No Surrender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeeeeee Hawwww!!!!!!!!!

  7. spthegr8 - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    If we can get just a LITTLE bit of this bench contribution on a reg basis and get healthy…..???? I don’t know we do struggle with the younger, more athletic teams. But I wouldn’t wanna see the LAKESHOW in the playoffs!!! You NEVER KNOW!!! Just Saying!!!

  8. rayray5227 - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:05 AM

    Good to see the rest of my Lakers taking the season as serious as Kobe.

  9. money2long - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    an indiana pacers fan thanked kobe on twitter for gutting it out and playing, saying he appreciated kobe for trying for the fans sake, or something along those lines. kobe replied and thanked him back…saying he would have not been so happy himself if when he was a kid buying a ticket to watch jordan and having him not play. i like the fan interaction kobe is displaying, also, i like that an indiana fan after a loss could appreciate kobe’s willingness to try to give it a go last night. shows perspective from that guy’s standpoint.

  10. davidly - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Though it defies logic, at this point in their development, the Lakers have the potential to be better without Bryant. How? you may ask, oh dedicated sports rubes? How is it, that without one of the greatest players the game has seen, that his team could play better without him?

    Not as complicated as you might think: Each player has his unique talents. While it is true that Bryant is capable of being more than just a scorer, even he himself admits that that is what he is first and foremost.

    So while Bryant is a scorer who can facilitate because of his scoring threat, Nash and Blake, on the other hand, are facilitators who can score because of their scoring threat.

    Right now–and as you witnessed last night against the best defense in the league–having Nash and Blake handling the ball most of the time better enables the rest of the team to move off the ball, which enables the point guards to do their thing.

    In short, if this team is to perform to their full potential, they need Bryant to handle the ball less, regardless of how many shots he takes.

    • bougin89 - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:06 AM

      Excellent take.

      • davidly - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        Thanks much. Though I hafta note that I should’ve said…
        Nash and Blake, on the other hand, are facilitators who can score because of their threat to facilitate.
        Otherwise, I agree with me.

  11. omniusprime - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Nice to see the team respond to Kobe coming out to play when he should have stayed on the sideline. A good road win against the #2 seed in the Eastern Creampuff Conference. Kobe shamed his teammates into rising to the occasion by suiting up for the game. Even though he didn’t score his grit and determination were not lost on his teammates. All of a sudden there’s a story Pau may be back Monday when he was supposed to be done for the regular season.

    I hope Kobe rehabs his sore ankle and if he needs to take a game or two off to ensure it heals properly then that’s what he should do. Kobe needs to be near 100% for the team to excel and now is a chance for other players to step up and play beyond expectations. Kudos to Steve Flake for doing so as well as Trash Nash.

    We Laker fans are lucky that Kobe isn’t like that deadbeat sissy Derrick Rose who’s too afraid to come out and play.

    Go Kobe!!! Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!!

  12. ocgunslinger - Mar 16, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Nobody knows their own physical limitations like Kobe. I only hope he does not push it too hard and not allow the injury time to properly heal. His game is needed big time in the playoffs.

  13. fanofevilempire - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    come on man, he had me looking for Kleenex with
    the ” bought a tear to my eye ” line.

  14. BigBeachBall - Mar 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    just beat a damn good pacers team without gasol, hill, or kobe…. that’s called depth my friends….

  15. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Where’s magicbucs and thatmagicfanguy now?

    Lakers won against arguably the EC’s second best team WITHOUT Kobe and Gasol, playing away from home.

    Still eating crow again I guess.

    While dipping their chow in vinegar.

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