L.A. Lakers: Kobe Bryant’s Ankle Is Not as Interesting as Team’s Performance

San Antonio, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta and Orlando. Those five teams represented what was arguably the Los Angeles Lakers' most critical stretch of the season, and to say they were successful would be an understatement.

All of the games except the Orlando game were on the road and the Lakers went 4-1, with their only blemish coming at the hands of a Miami Heat team that was desperate for a win after dropping five straight games.

The Lakers blew San Antonio and Atlanta out, but in the third quarter of their contest against Dallas, star guard Kobe Bryant went down in a heap with what appeared to be a badly sprained ankle.

Obviously, the injury looked a lot worse than it really was, because it hasn't prevented the Lakers from establishing themselves as clear favorites to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals series.

The Lakers have arguably been the league's most dominant team since the All-Star break, but that little nugget of knowledge has been over-shadowed by the emergence of the Chicago Bulls in the East and the continuing trials of the Heat.

Chicago, with an 8-1 record since the All-Star break, is perhaps the only team that rivals the Lakers during that period, and the attention is deserved since their performances have carried them to the top of the East.

Miami, on the other hand, is caught in between moments of greatness and periods of head-scratching ineptitude.

The Heat looked like true contenders in a win over the Lakers and a dominant victory over the Spurs, but then came last night's strange home loss to Oklahoma City.

But while the eyes of the NBA are turned East, the Lakers have started to resemble the team that marched to a second-consecutive NBA title last season, and Bryant's ankle has been a non-issue along the way.

And it's not just the fact that the Lakers have been winning games, but how they have looked doing so.

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