With Kobe Bryant done for the rest of the season, and both the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs vying for playoff position, Sunday night’s matchup could have huge implications.
The Lakers hold a one-game lead over Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and need to win out to avoid a tie. The Jazz own the season series mark.
The Spurs have battled through some late-season injuries of their own, and are half a game away from Oklahoma City for the top seed in the West.
The Lakers will miss Bryant for the next six to nine months after he tore the Achilles tendon in his left foot Friday in L.A.’s 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors.
Before he left with three minutes remaining, Bryant had 34 points, while Pau Gasol totaled 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Dwight Howard collected 28 points and seven rebounds.
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San Antonio has gone 3-3 this month, including a loss to the Thunder, but the offense was on fire Friday, with seven players in double figures in a 108-101 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Battling through an ankle injury, point guard Tony Parker scored 22 points with 10 assists, and Tim Duncan tallied 18 points, six rebounds, and five blocks.
Tiago Splitter helped Duncan control the glass with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Matt Bonner went 3-for-5 from deep for 11 points off the bench.
The game tips-off at 9:30 p.m. Eastern and will be show by KENS or TWC SN, or you can watch a live online stream by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband here.
Betting Odds: San Antonio is favored by 4.5 points
Over/Under: 196 points
Prediction: Bryant was the offense for most of the season, and while he took shots from Howard and Gasol, he was knocking them down. Both of L.A.’s big men will have to figure out how to control Duncan and Splitter. Parker should be the difference, as he appears healthy and has been San Antonio’s catalyst all season.
Predicted Score: San Antonio 100, Los Angeles 92