Kobe Bryant Injury: Torn Achilles Dashes Los Angeles Lakers Hopes of Playoff Run

The Los Angeles Lakers' chances of doing damage in the playoffs weren't great to begin with, but now that star guard Kobe Bryant is likely out for the season with a torn Achilles, they simply won't be a factor moving forward.

Although the Lakers were able to outlast the Golden State Warriors by a score of 118-116 on Friday night and preserve their one-game lead over the Utah Jazz for eighth place in the Western Conference, it was an incredibly costly game for L.A. Bryant crumbled to the court with a little over three minutes remaining in the contest and it was abundantly clear that something was wrong.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Bryant will undergo an MRI on Saturday, but the Lakers are calling his injury a probable and complete tear of his Achilles. Not only does that mean Bryant is out for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs should the Lakers qualify, but his status for next season is in doubt as well.

The Lakers and Jazz have two games each remaining on the schedule, so Los Angeles simply needs to win its next two to ensure a playoff berth. That is far from a guarantee without Bryant in the fold. Point guard Steve Nash is also injured, so the Lakers will have to lean heavily of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol if they hope to continue playing past the requisite 82 games.

If the regular season ended today, the Lakers would play the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. The San Antonio Spurs are just a half game behind the Thunder, though, so one of those teams will play the Lakers in the first round if they are fortunate enough to make it. Beating the Thunder or Spurs would have been a tall order with Bryant, but doing so without him is a near impossibility.

There is no question that the Lakers are talented, but that talent hasn't really helped them get over the hump this season. Even with the likes of Nash, Howard and Gasol helping him out, Bryant was truly the straw that...

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