The Los Angeles Lakers could not quite match the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, as the underachieving team once again dropped below 0.500, following a 105-122 loss. Despite the loss, it is Kobe Bryant’s injured elbow that causes most concern for these Lakers.
Early in the first quarter of the game, Bryant tangled with Thabo Sefolosha, seemingly injuring his elbow. He went to the locker room, only to return several minutes later and play the rest of the game. While the guard still scored 30 points, he was grimacing in pain throughout the game.
If there is anything we know about Kobe, it is that he has an extremely high tolerance for pain. He has previously played with broken fingers and other injuries, so it is no surprise that he will keep going with this one:
Kobe said he's going to keep playing through the elbow injury. At this point in the season, he/LAL have no choice.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 6, 2013
His injury is described as “ulnar nerve contusion”, and the Black Mamba explained the pain in his elbow to the Los Angeles Times:
“I just got popped right on that button,” Bryant said. “Every time you try to bend your elbow, extend it with resistance, it’s a lot of pain. You’ve just got to adjust the mechanics. I wasn’t able to hold my follow-through too much.”
Ever since Bryant guaranteed that his team would be making a playoff appearance this season, the Lakers have been playing significantly better. We know that he will play through the injury, but his performance on the court will undoubtedly be affected.
As the Lakers enter a very important stretch of the season, Kobe’s ailments could not come at a worse time. Despite being a solid rebounding machine, Dwight Howard is still not anywhere near his peak form, while Pau Gasol is out for at least the regular season.
Lakers making the playoffs seemed very possible after the successful little streak the team put together lately, but with Bryant hurting, do they have enough to make it?