Will Kobe Bryant Return to L.A. Lakers Team Already out of Playoff Contention?

With Kobe Bryant out six weeks with a left knee injury, will the Los Angeles Lakers fall too far out of playoff contention before he returns?

It’s not the best of times for the Purple and Gold. They were shelled by the Phoenix Suns, 117-90 on Monday night and shelled by the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, 102-83. 

With their last two losses, the Lakers are 1.5 games behind the eighth-place Warriors in the Western Conference and 4.5 games behind the fifth-place Suns.

The guy who’s supposed to be the Lakers’ second option after Bryant, is also having a rough stretch. Pau Gasol missed Saturday night’s loss with an upper respiratory infection. On Monday he put forth a lackluster effort, first outplayed by the Suns’ Miles Plumlee, then head-butted by him in the third quarter. Gasol didn’t return to the game.

Things are beginning to look bleak. Mike Bresnahan for the Los Angeles Times sums it up succinctly:

Pretty soon, the Lakers can start forgetting about the postseason if this keeps up. There are two-game trips, and then there are wastes of time, the Lakers losing to Phoenix and Golden State by a combined 46 points in a 48-hour span.

As Bresnahan added, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t want to hear about it.

Guys, I mean, it's like, OK, we lost two road games. It takes some adjusting. We've got to get somebody healthy. We'll be back. We're not going anywhere. We're going to fight and we're going to try and stay above .500. We've got a nice homestand coming up and if anybody hangs their head, they don't need to be on our bandwagon.

Lakers’ fans might not want to relive Monday night’s misery but just in case, here are the “highlights.”

If you’re waiting for a punchline for all of this, the Lakers get to play the Miami He...

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