MIAMI — Kobe Bryant, injured and fatigued?
Bryant's play in the fourth quarter has dropped over the last three games, bringing with it a series of questions about his health as the Lakers fall further behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
Bryant has combined to score six points in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' last three efforts, all losses. He said after the Lakers' 102-89 loss Thursday to the Miami Heat that the severe right ankle sprain that cost him 14 games has been aggravated.
"It just gets a little stiff, so I've got to make sure I keep it loose," Bryant said.
The Lakers' playoff existence might depend on it.
"He missed 14 games," Coach Frank Hamblen said. "He didn't work that hard for 14 games. I know we've played him a lot of minutes. You have to ask him. I know he's playing hurt to some degree."