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Saturday, February 6, 2010
Life without Kobe: What could it mean?

By Brian Kamenetzky

I have no idea how long Kobe Bryant will be out thanks to the injured left ankle that kept him in street clothes for Saturday's 99-82 streak-busting win over the Blazers in Portland. None. Not a clue. He could very well play Monday night against San Antonio. Maybe he sits a little longer, waiting until Wednesday's game in Utah, or perhaps he decides to shut 'er down until after the All-Star break.

Frankly, like a lot of people I was a little thrown he actually sat himself down in the first place. (Happy, because he needed it, just a little surprised he did.)

So what happens if Kobe misses time? What would the Lakers look like?

Between Saturday's win sans-24 and Friday's loss to a Nuggets team without Carmelo Anthony, it's pretty clear good teams can continue to succeed without star players.

Here are a few ways in which things change, and how the Lakers have to adjust:

I've long said the Lakers are a solid playoff team without Kobe Bryant. Not elite, but very good (I'm including a healthy Bynum in this equation). My guess is Kobe won't be out long, probably because he's driven to play, possibly because he wants to undercut the shelf-life of my work, but for however long it lasts the Lakers showed tonight they're still quite capable of playing good ball.

Best of all, some of the lessons- balance, aggressiveness, a willingness to play with confidence- are equally applicable when Kobe comes back (which, again, could be Monday for all I know).  It's not a good thing for Kobe to be injured, but there's no reason it has to equal disaster.