The swag of the Lakers team has been devastated by injuries

by Cass Waters

Kobe Bryant faced two crises Tuesday night, one short-term and one long-term. He dealt with both the same way, in the only way you would expect of the five-time champion and ruthless competitor — with unfettered aggression. The Los Angeles Lakers were down two points late in the fourth quarter against theBrooklyn Nets and were playing Earl Clark way out of position at center against Brook Lopez, who was crushing them on the way to 30 points.

Bryant took the ball with the shot clock running out as he split three Net defenders and exploded to the rim for a dunk.That play energized the Lakers at a time when they were absorbing the reality that they’d probably just sustained another significant injury. Clark made a few plays down the stretch but it was Bryant’s move that established the tide as the Lakers took it 92-83, their sixth win in seven games.

But within a few minutes, it faded away.

“I’m very, very concerned, to say the least,” Bryant said, the glow of the win swallowed quickly by the news the team got on Gasol. “It feels good to be able to pull out a win like this but now reality sets in.”

There will be an MRI but it certainly seemed as if Gasol feared he’d torn the tissue. In the grand scheme, that can be considered a good thing. A torn plantar fascia is better than an inflamed one because a torn one heals much quicker. But you can’t play through it and it’s a weeks-long recovery process. Howard had been unable to play due to an injury to his right labrum last month. Kobe has a history of playing through his injuries and he made it clear he thinks Howard could be and maybe should be playing through the pain in his shoulder.

Evaluating other people’s injuries is a delicate process. No one really knows what another player is going through. Bryant only knows what he’s gone through and, famously, his tolerance for everything from pain to losing to simple idle conversation is on a different plane than his teammates’ through the years. Will Howard toughen up and deal with his injuries to help his teammates out?

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