Kobe Bryant scored 34 points while playing much of the second half in obvious pain with an injured left leg, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied in the final minutes without him to stay in the playoff picture with a 118-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
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.
“I can’t walk,” Bryant said. “I tried to maybe put pressure on my heel, but there was nothing there.”
The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history stayed in the game until 3:06 remained despite obvious mobility limitations and two lengthy breaks to walk off an injury from early in the second half. Bryant apparently hyperextended his knee before tearing his tendon later in the half.
Stephen Curry scored 47 points in a dynamic performance for the Warriors, but Los Angeles played just enough late defense to hang on for a crucial win.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Bryant apparently tore his tendon. He went down in a heap under the basket early in the third quarter, rolling on the ground after hyperextending his knee.
Bryant stayed in the game and hit two free throws, but the Warriors began a steady run to a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter. He needed a few more breaks to rest his legs, but the severe injury apparently didn’t happen until the final minutes.
Los Angeles (43-37) stayed one game ahead of Utah (42-38) for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games to go. The Jazz hold the tiebreaker.
Pau Gasol had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth career triple-double. Dwight Howard added 28 points and seven rebounds, capping a competent 14-for-22 effort at the free-throw line with one last point with 1.5 seconds left.