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Not a great way to start a road trip

I'm not even going to bother analyzing last night's game.  The Lakers beat the Timberwolves 104-92, a double digit victory that didn't even cover the spread.  Dex took care of all the analysis you could possibly need for such a ho-hum affair.

The much more important issue was the injury suffered by Kobe Bryant, an avulsion fracture to the tip of the index finger on his shooting hand.  Kobe being Kobe, he won't miss any time.  But he has acknowledged that the location of the injury means it will be more difficult to remain effective through the injury than he has in the past.  Kobe's ability to play (and play well) through injuries is as impressive as it is well-documented.  So when he says he's concerned that the injury will be more difficult to deal with, we have to take him at his word.  In his own words, he will "just have to get used to it", and "it's just a different technique to shoot the ball".

And there couldn't be a worse time for Kobe to not be 100%.  Obviously, it would be considerably worse if Kobe had injured himself badly enough that he'd have to miss time, but the Lakers are just now entering a stretch of 19 of 28 on the road.  Normally, in road games, Kobe is much more aggressive to start the game, establishing success for his teammates to build confidence upon.  He usually fills up the scoreboard a bit more on the road.  So, for the Lakers to go through nearly half of their road schedule with Kobe not hitting on all cylinders would be a significant blow.

There's no player in the NBA more capable of dealing with this type of situation than Kobe.  He'll find a way to be effective on the floor.  But if his shooting struggles over the next few weeks as he adjusts to dealing with the injury, if he turns the ball over a bit more because he doesn't have the handling he's used to, it could very well make the difference between wins and losses.  The Lakers road games can end up pretty tight affairs, and the difference between a healthy Kobe and a hurt Kobe could be enough to cause L.A. to end up with a few more disappointments over this stretch.

And if it happens, no one should panic.  If the Lakers lose a bad game to some scrub of the NBA, just let it go.  This injury doesn't change much, but it might not be a bad idea to temper your expectations for the Lakers over the next few weeks.

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