The 2013-2014 NBA season hasn’t gone as Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers would have hoped. The Lakers are one of the worst teams in the league, and they’ve reached this point with the shooting guard on the bench for most of the way.
Bryant hasn’t played since Dec. 17 when he fractured his knee. In 18 games since, the Lakers have won just four times. That’s put their total record at 16-26, making Los Angeles the No.13 seed and eight games out of the playoffs. However, Bryant could return sooner than the team had originally thought.
The veteran will be re-evaluated on either Jan. 27 or Jan. 28. The Lakers road trip is set to end on Jan. 26 with a game against the New York Knicks. Last week, Bryant told the media that his injured knee wouldn’t be looked at until February. There is still no timetable for when he might come back, but Bryant doesn’t have much concern about if he can play at a high level when he does take the court again.
"There was before I came back the first time because I didn't know how my Achilles was going to respond to playing and changing directions,'' Bryant said earlier this week. ''The game in Memphis I had a pretty good feel for it, getting back to being able to do what I normally could do. I feel confident about it. I did play that second half on a fractured leg and played pretty well. I feel pretty good about my chances.''
Despite how Bryant feels, his return might not help the team improve that much. In six games this year, L.A. went 2-4. He played 29.5 minutes per game, averaging 13.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting. He did average a career-high 6.3 assists.
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Bryant didn’t make his season debut until Dec. 8 because of his torn Achilles that he suffered at the end of last season. Less than two weeks later, he was sidelined with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. He has never played less than 50 games in a year.
While Bryant may still be out for a little while, Xavier Henry could be back by the end of the week. There’s a chance he’ll suit up on Sunday as the Lakers close out their road trip. The small forward is averaging 10.1 points per game, but hasn’t played in 2014 because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
"He pushed it a little bit," head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We'll see (Thursday) how he wakes up, if it's sore. He said the way it felt (Wednesday), it felt pretty good. He'll take the next step where he gets some contact and stuff."