The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors, final score 118-116. Even with the victory, though, the purple and gold faithful walk away feeling as defeated as can be with Kobe Bryant suffering what may be devastating achilles injury.
Kobe put it all on the floor tonight. All over the floor, going down with what felt like a new injury that looked debilitating every quarter. Finally, with only three minutes left in the fourth quarter of a tied game, Kobe could go no further. All that was left was a man who could barely walk to the free throw line before he left his team to finish the job. Yes, Kobe could play no more, and had to leave the floor at a critical point in a crucial game of the season. The man was hurt.
Kobe ended the game with 34 points, five rebounds, and four assists. The problem in all of this is, the Lakers' initial exams on Bryant indicate he may have torn his achilles. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
Pau Gasol continued his late-season post-injury during-recovery surge, putting together 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists for a triple-double. Whether he was setting up Dwight Howard with a lob, kicking it out to an open shooter, or working in the post himself Gasol put in work.
Stephen Curry went bananas throughout the night, most notably opening the game with a barrage of offense in the first quarter. He steadily ate Steve Blake and the Lakers' souls, and his hail mary heave with 1.5 seconds left in the game came close enough to strike fear in the heart of every Lakers fan watching the ball descend towards the rim. Curry ended the night with 45 points, going 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. He also had nine assists.
His back court partner, Klay Thompson, also used the Lakers' defense as a shooting calibration exercise. Thompson scored 27 points, taking the time to pick on Blake just as Curry did.
With the Utah Jazz defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, this was a must-win for the Lakers and they now need only two more wins to punch their playoff ticket. This would all be well and good, and it still is. Yes, the Lakers keep their car putting along the freeway, hoping to bypass the regular season exit and see First Round Avenue at least. With Kobe Bryant going down with what may be a torn achilles, however, it's hard to remain optimistic.
Here are the bottles of champagne that could've been popped in such an occasion. A big win at the end of a season with Gasol throwing down a triple-double. There's just no heart left to burst them open after the potentially devastating injury to Kobe Bryant.
Rough all around.