Friday, April 12, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 118, Warriors 116
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers got the win, but they lost the man who pushed them to get there.
Kobe Bryant had beaten the odds all season long, tossing in turn-back-the-clock dunks while racking up statistical achievements that were supposed to be impossible for a 34-year-old in his 17th season until it all came to a crashing halt on Friday.
Even Bryant proved to be not totally indestructible.
After hurting both his left knee and right knee following collisions with Golden State's Festus Ezeli in the third quarter and managing to stay in the game, Bryant took one hit too many and couldn't keep playing in the fourth.
Bryant checked out of the game with 3:06 remaining in the fourth quarter after playing every minute up to that point and did not return. The team announced after the game that Bryant had suffered a probable torn Achilles tendon and that an MRI exam would be performed Saturday. He finished with 34 points.
L.A. won a game it needed to win, but with Bryant out of the lineup going forward, the Lakers will have a major challenge in front of them if they want to reach the playoffs.
How it happened: L.A. erased a nine-point Warriors lead in the second half thanks to some clutch play down the stretch from Steve Blake (14 points, five assists) and Dwight Howard (28 points, seven rebounds), and Carl Landry missed a go-ahead jumper that could have won it for the Warriors.
What it means: Utah started the night with a win against Minnesota, so the Lakers knew what was at stake before tipoff. The Lakers held serve. They lead the Jazz by one game with two left to play. They still control their own destiny.
Hits:Pau Gasol finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to register his sixth career triple-double.
Misses: A game after the Lakers allowed Portland's Damian Lillard to go off for 38, Friday was Stephen Curry's turn to shine. Curry was absolutely on fire, finishing with 47 points on 17-for-31 shooting, including a 9-for-15 mark from 3.
Stat of the game: Howard went into Friday shooting 49 percent from the free throw line this season -- the lowest percentage of his career -- but he had been on a minor upswing recently, shooting 12-for-20 in his previous three games. He made 14 of 22 free throw attempts Friday night.
Up next: Eighty down, two to go. All that's left is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. PT against San Antonio and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Houston.