LOS ANGELES – An examination by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo prior to Tuesday’s 104-92 loss to the Indiana Pacers, revealed that Kobe Bryant is still experiencing pain and swelling in his left knee which will force him to miss at least three more weeks, according to a team press release.
The 35-year-old will be restricted to a rehabilitation program of non-weight bearing exercise that consists mainly of working out on a stationary bike, which Bryant has been partaking in for the past few weeks.
“I’m sure they’re going to take every measure to be cautionary,” said head coach Mike D’Antoni after Tuesday loss. “At this point there’s no use forcing him back, so when he’s ready he’ll play and time will heal his wound and he’ll come on when he’s ready.”
Bryant has been out since Dec. 17 due to a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee that came just nine days after returning from a torn left Achilles tendon that sidelined him for over eight months. In the six games he has played this season, Bryant is averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 42.5 percent shooting in 29.5 minutes per game.
This all but rules Bryant out from playing in his 16th All-Star game on Feb 16. in New Orleans. Bryant had stated last week that he did not want to participate in the All-Star game as he felt he would not have enough time to get his body right prior to the game.
As Bryant continues his rehab, teammate Pau Gasol knows how difficult it must be for him not be out there on the court.
“It’s hard to hear that,” Gasol said after hearing the news of Bryant’s latest setback. “For him first, because I know how much he loves the game and loves to play, and it’s hard for us as a team having our best player not healthy and continuing to be injured. I know it’s been a rough stretch for him, so, I just hope that he heals well and can come back when he’s ready.”
Gasol revealed after Tuesday’ game that he has been dealing with a groin injury over the past few days that came to a head against the Pacers as he described the injury as bothersome throughout the entire game.
“It’s been bothering me a little bit, but tonight it bothered me from the beginning (of the game), ” Gasol said. ” I didn’t do anything really explosive today. I tried to loosen it up by jogging in place but nothing helped.”
Steve Nash also provided an injury update on Tuesday as he told the Orange County Register that he will not play in Friday’s game and is targeting next Tuesday’s road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The soon-to-be 40 year old has missed all but six games this season due to nerve root irritation in his lower back.
So with the news coming out that Bryant will miss a longer period of time, Jodie Meeks stated after Tuesday’s loss that the team must continue to play hard.
“The guys that we have out there, that’s all we have,” Meeks said. “We don’t make any excuses, just go out there and try to win games. It’s been tough for us a little bit for the past couple of weeks, but guys are playing hard and they’re playing tough so we just have to hang in there.”
For D’Antoni at this point in the season, he did not envision the team dealing with some many injuries. But with that said he knows that the Lakers are going to continue to give their best effort on the court every night.
“I didn’t envision five guys going down,” D’Antoni said. “I thought Kobe would be back by now. I thought Steve Nash would be here and they are both not here. So we are going to keep playing, keep plugging, and play as hard as we can play. But we got to get guys back and got to get a little bit better.”
Here is a video of highlights from Bryant’s last game played this season on Dec. 17 vs. Memphis Grizzles: