USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers aren't in the kind of shape where they can beat one of the worst teams in the league without Bryant.
As if the Los Angeles Lakers are not dealing with enough, Kobe Bryant reportedly played through back spasms in Los Angeles' win over the NBA's worst team, the Washington Wizards. Kobe led the team in scoring in the 102-96 win, putting up 30 points on 9-of-29 shooting. With the state that the Lakers are in, they could not afford to deploy anything but their best effort against the Wizards, and that includes Kobe.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni's explanation for why he would risk playing Bryant was simple. "Part of it is because he's good," the coach said. He added (via Dave McMenamin):
"[Kobe] said he wasn't even close to being tired and I told him that they'll put a statue of him at Staples but it might literally be me riding him to death. So, they might just take him off the floor and bronze him right there. So be it. We need a win. We'll figure out the rest of the stuff. We do have to watch his minutes as we go, but as soon as we get some guys back we can watch his minutes hopefully. I'm not promising anything."
The Lakers are 10-14 overall but just 3-8 on the road, with their three wins coming against teams that are currently a combined 19-46. Bryant's injury is just the latest for the Lakers. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are out, and Jordan Hill missed Friday's game with back spasms. The team has neither talent nor wins to spare at the moment, which may leave Bryant on the floor on nights when it isn't the best move.