Kobe Bryant injury: Lakers star likely to return Friday vs. Wizards

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is nearing a return to the court after missing the last two games with a severely sprained ankle and could return as early as Friday against the Washington Wizards. 

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According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is confident that because of his competitive nature, Bryant will suit up on Friday when the Lakers square off against the lowly Wizards at Staples Center. 

Under normal circumstances, Bryant likely wouldn’t rush to return, but with the Lakers hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference playoffs, he and the rest of the squad can ill-afford to take chances. It’s not difficult to see that the Lakers have to maintain a high level of play at 36-33 in order to retain their positioning for the postseason. 

On Monday, the Lakers dropped a game they needed and should have won against the rival Phoenix Suns. But tired legs, a short, seven-man rotation and a terrible shooting performance doomed the purple and gold as they still have yet to sweep a back-to-back this season. 

Bryant has been an ageless wonder in 2012-13, scoring at will and facilitating when he needs to. He’s been a vocal leader and has handled the adversity of the trying season  as only he knows how — by playing and working harder. 

As much as some critics will say that the team looks better without Bryant in the lineup, there is no substitute for the contagiousness of the killer instinct he displays on a nightly basis. It’s the attitude that has him at 17 years in the league averaging 27.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 46.8 percent from the field, his highest clip since 2001-02. 

Bryant may not be fully healthy come Friday, but the Lakers need him as soon as possible. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His credits include Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report, among others.


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