Lakers guard Kobe Bryant grabs his left Achilles' tendon after injuring… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Kobe Bryant is certain that he tore his left Achilles' tendon. He'll undergo an MRI exam on Saturday, but the Lakers' All-Star guard is expected to be out with what appears to be a devastating injury.
"It's a new experience for me," said Bryant, who was on crutches after the Lakers' 118-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors. "Obviously there have been a bunch of players that have had the same injury. All I can do is look at them, see what they've done and see who had more success coming back quicker and healthier. See what they did and try to improve upon it."
Bryant's eyes were bloodshot as he generously spoke to media despite the injury. He wouldn't entertain the thought that he's played in his last game for the team.
Later in the night he tweeted the following:
Recoveries vary, but a typical Achilles' tendon tear can take six to 12 months to heal. Bryant tends to generally return ahead of schedule when hurt, but this is the most significant injury he's faced in his 17-year career.
"I don't have enough words to express how much I admire Kobe and what he has been trying to do all season long," said a visibly shaken Pau Gasol. "These last 10 days of just fighting for the team and fighting through pain, no matter what, wanting to be on the floor every second has been just incredible."
The locker room was naturally somber considering the circumstances.
"I'm sad to see another great player, great friend and great teammate go down again," said Steve Blake. "I'm sad for everybody."
The Lakers have two games left in the regular season and might need to win both to hold off the Utah Jazz for eighth place and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I'm just going to continue to pray. Pray for him. Pray for his health," said Dwight Howard. "We can't just give up because he's out. We've have to basically turn [it] up. We've got to go out there and play and get good wins."
The Lakers will have to regroup quickly.
Nash is still a question mark for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers close out this arduous regular season against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
"We have to close ranks and we hate it [that Bryant is injured]," said Coach Mike D'Antoni. "I hate it for Kobe. I hate it for us. I hate it for L.A., but you have to close ranks. There is no going back now. We will come out Sunday and come out swinging."
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.