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Bryant injury gives new life to Utah and Dallas

Kobe Bryant’s injury might have opened the door for the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. Kobe was injured this week with what the Los Angeles Lakers are calling a severe ankle sprain. He was listed by the team as being out indefinitely.

However, over the years, the Lakers superstar has played through more injuries and pain than most other NBA players. Regardless of what the team said following his injury, no one would be surprised to see him on the Lakers bench Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Even though it takes a lot for the veteran to sit out, Bryant’s injury in the waning second of Wednesday’s game might keep him sidelined. Bryant took a fade away looking to tie the score but landed on Atlanta Hawks player Dahntay Jones’ foot and turned his ankle over.

There has been some controversy because of the play, as some players and fans have said Jones moved up underneath Bryant while he was taking his shot. Regardless, the fact is with the injury the door has been opened a bit for both the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz in the race for the playoffs.

Kobe is an integral part of the Lakers offense and if he does not play or is not 100%, it could hurt the team tremendously. Of recent, Kobe was instrumental in rallying the team past New Orleans and Toronto to help the Lakers reach the eighth and final playoff spot for the time being.

Without Bryant in the lineup, staying in that eighth spot looks difficult at best. The Jazz have played well this season and Dallas, even though San Antonio beat them Thursday night, has been surging and could stroll past the Lakers if Bryant cannot play for an extended period of time.

Dallas has won four of its last five games and is now a true threat to taking the last playoff spot from the Lakers if Bryant has to sit. Currently Utah is just a half game behind the Lakers in ninth place and Dallas is three games behind the Lakers in tenth place.

Dallas faces a tough stretch of 10 of its next 12 games with teams in playoff contention and started that with a 92-91 loss on Thursday to the Spurs. One advantage the Mavericks have is they have two games in hand against the Lakers and one with Utah. Those fewer games played could help Dallas as long as they convert them to wins. In that stretch of tough games, is one against the Lakers and eight of the 12 are in Dallas including six straight in last March.

Utah has an important stretch of four games before meeting Dallas head to head and those games could help determine which of the three teams is in eighth place when Utah and Dallas meet head to head.

Bryant is said to be getting daylong treatment on his ankle and hopes to be ready on Friday night in Indiana. On Thursday, Bryant sent out a tweet saying his ankle was still quite swollen, but no one from the team would offer an official statement on Bryant’s status.

Thursday Los Angeles did not practice prior to their Friday matchup against Indiana to end a three game swing in the East.

Friday night’s game will give fans a glimpse of how Bryant really is. If he starts and plays well, the ankle is not a problem and their playoff hopes remain high, if he is on crutches and in street clothes, then the Lakers and their fans should start to worry.

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