Work in Sports
Lakers take floor without Bryant in Game 3
Posted: Monday June 12, 2000 07:32 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Los Angeles Lakers standout Kobe Bryant sat out Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night after spraining his left ankle two nights earlier.
And afterward, he was nowhere to be found.
Without Bryant, the Lakers lost to the Indiana Pacers 100-91, cutting their lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant put his shoes on and told the coaching staff he wanted to give it a go some 35 minutes before the game began.
"I wanted to see him do some lateral slides, and I asked him how it felt," Jackson said. "He said, 'It hurts.' I said, 'Well then, let's save it. We can save this one.' It was a tough decision, but I think it's better for us actually in the long run. He accepted it."
Jackson said Bryant received treatment during the game.
Bryant's status for Game 4 on Wednesday night is uncertain, but when asked if he thinks Bryant will play, teammate Derek Fisher replied, "It seems like it. I'm not exactly sure how painful it is. We would hate to have him out there and not be Kobe."
Brian Shaw, one of the Lakers' heroes in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on June 4, took Bryant's spot in the starting lineup, and shot 3-for-10 in scoring six points while playing 31 minutes.
"It would have helped us [to have Bryant]," Lakers guard Ron Harper said. "He's a guy who does so much for this team."
When asked what the Lakers missed most with Bryant on the sidelines, forward Rick Fox said: "It's his attacking presence; he has a fearless way of attacking. We missed his defense, too. Not that anyone else did a poor job. One more guy out there would have been nice."
Nearly 90 minutes before the game began, while lying on a training table in the Lakers' dressing room with his ankle being stimulated electrically, Bryant indicated with a hand signal he was uncertain as to his status.
A few minutes later, his ankle, which appeared slightly discolored, was unwrapped and then packed in ice, and Bryant spoke with team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo.
Speaking to the media an hour and 45 minutes before game time, Jackson said the decision to play or not was basically up to Bryant, "although the doctors are influencing him, obviously."
"But there's no structural damage to the ankle, per se," Jackson said.
Jackson said at that stage he believed it was about 75-25 that Bryant would sit out.
"Realistically speaking, Kobe won't be 100 percent for a while," Jackson said.
Bryant, a second-team All-NBA selection as well as first-team all-defense pick, was injured while making his only shot of Game 2 on Friday night, a 17-foot jumper with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
He landed on Jalen Rose's foot after releasing the shot, and went down. Twenty-one seconds later, during the first available break, Bryant was helped off the court.
The Lakers went on to win the game at Staples Center 111-104.
Bryant scored 14 points -- well below his playoff average of 21.2 --
in his team's 104-87 victory over the Pacers in Game 1.