The Lakers survived tonight's game against the Warriors when Stephen Curry's would-be game-winning heave from 70 feet away just barely rimmed out, but they may have suffered an even bigger blow than if that shot had gone in. The Lakers believe Kobe Bryant has torn his Achilles tendon, the team told reporters, including Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). Bryant will undergo an MRI tomorrow morning to confirm the initial diagnosis.
Bryant appeared to suffer three different leg injuries during the game, though the major blow seemed to occur with 3:08 to go, when he crumpled to the ground following a foul by Harrison Barnes. Bryant remained in the game to shoot his two free throws, making both, and exited after Steve Blake committed a foul to stop the clock with 3:06 left.
If Bryant indeed suffered the Achilles tear, he'd no doubt be done for this season and probably most of next year, as well. His contract runs through next season, and he's frequently hinted that he'll retire when the deal is up. He said two weeks ago that he'd decide this summer whether next season will be his last.
In the short term, such a major injury would damage L.A.'s chances of beating the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers have a one-game lead with two games left for each team, but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker. The Cavs and Suns also have stakes in the outcome, since Cleveland gets the Lakers' first-round pick if L.A. makes the playoffs, while the selection goes to Phoenix if the Jazz nab the postseason berth.
Bryant seemed resigned to the worst of news as he spoke to the media following the game. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com tweets one of his comments:
"I made a move I've made a million times and it just popped. … (It felt) like I had no Achilles. That was the sensation," Bryant said.