Will Kobe be ready for the season opener next season? Lakers trainer Gary Vitti: “That’s the plan”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 13, 2013
The Los Angeles Lakers have won five of their past six games to solidify their hold on the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Their victory over the Golden State Warriors last night despite Stephen Curry’s 47-point eruption should have been cause for celebration. Although some of us had some trepidation about stating Pau Gasol was back to his 2010 form, his triple double last night certainly erased some of the doubts many had about the Spaniard’s ability to rise to the occasion.
And then all of Los Angeles fell as their very own incarnation of James Bond was victimized in the Lakers’ version of Skyfall.
Kobe Bryant has an Achilles tear and thus will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 regular season as well as a part of the 2013-14 campaign.
No matter how many tributes are painted about the Laker soldier, there just isn’t any way to truly illustrate how painful this setback is for both the franchise and the league as a whole.
In today’s NBA, Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers.
But starting tomorrow, it no longer is the case. This isn’t meant in any way, shape or form as a means of minimizing Bryant’s value or importance.
But the saddest thing about his absence is just that: he is no longer a player that can help the team on the hardwood this season.
Although it’s tough to predict if this is even possible, Mike D’Antoni must get the players to regroup for two regular season games. These contests aren’t just about the immediate future, they have a bearing on the franchise’s next steps.
The Purple and Gold must figure things out and band together. It’s an incredibly difficult proposition to ask the guys to “suck it” and go out and win two more games, but make no mistake that’s exactly how Kobe would approach the situation if say Dwight Howard had been the one who had been injured.
As odd as this may sound, the future is now. The Hollinger Playoff Odds give the Lakers a 79.1 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Utah Jazz who trail the Lake Show have a 20.9 percent probability of overtaking the final Western Conference playoff spot.
The schedule breakdown for the Lakers:
- Sunday April 14: San Antonio Spurs
- Wednesday April 17: Houston Rockets
Both games will be played at home.
This might be a little scary but there’s no way around it. In the 19 minutes the Lakers played this season without Kobe Bryant against the Spurs, the Lakers scored 80.2 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. Projected over a full season, that’s easily the worst figure in the league.
As it pertains to the Rockets, in 32 minutes without Bryant, NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us the Lakers scored 91.9 points per 100 possessions. It’s an improvement in comparison to the numbers against the Spurs, but still worthy of last place in the Association.
The sample sizes are incredibly small obviously.
The Lakers will now have to mix and match and then figure out which lineups work best. It stands to reason D’Antoni will always have either Gasol or Howard on the floor if the team will remain successful.
The sky has officially fallen in Los Angeles. Now it’s time for damage control.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.