Kobe Bryant tweaks ankle vs. Mavs

Updated: March 13, 2011, 1:59 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

DALLAS -- The Los Angeles Lakers three-peat hopes were nearly dashed with the twist of an ankle Saturday night.

Kobe Bryant left the Lakers 96-91 win in Dallas with 1 minute, 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter after falling awkwardly on his left ankle. The 15-year veteran went immediately to the locker room, limping heavily, to have it evaluated.

"I thought I was done, like done," Bryant said after the game, fearing he would be out for the rest of the season after suffering what he described as the scariest sprain he's ever had. "I was just praying that when I stood up my foot was lined up straight ... That scared the s--- out of me. I thought I dislocated it.

"We were all pretty scared s---less, to be honest with you because it looked horrible and it felt worse."

Bryant fell to the floor after having the ball slapped away from him by Shawn Marion. While Jason Kidd converted the turnover into a layup, Bryant remained on the floor in obvious pain.

After getting up, Bryant was limping when he took a few steps and called timeout.

"As soon as I stood up I was excited that my foot was still straight," Bryant said. "I was happy to see that it was lined up and then I walked in [the locker room] and said, 'OK, maybe it's just a sprained ankle and I can deal with it.' "

It turns out Bryant aggravated the same ankle he sprained two games ago in a win against the Atlanta Hawks. He remained in the Atlanta game however, playing through the injury.

"The ankle was already weak," Bryant said. "And it just went."

Once in the locker room, Bryant jogged in place and tested the ankle before determining he could re-enter the game.

"The strength felt good, I could push off on it," Bryant said. "It was still sore, so I had to stop being a chump and just suck it up and go out there and play."

The Lakers' reserves actually took a two-point lead when Bryant exited and boosted it up to nine when he returned with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Bryant had four points and one rebound in the fourth quarter while playing on the sprain, making a jumper on the baseline to put L.A. up 89-81 with 2:44 remaining and then icing the win with two free throws with four seconds remaining.

He finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals but shot just 6-for-20 from the field.

Bryant's ankle was taped after the game and he walked without the aid of any sort of crutch.

"It's pretty swollen, it's like a baseball outside of my ankle, but the strength is still good," Bryant said. "So even though it looks horrible, I can still push off of it and things like that."

The win against Dallas gave Los Angeles a 3-1 record on their four-game road trip. They return home Saturday night and host the Orlando Magic on Monday.

"It's going to be a situation that we'll have to watch for a couple days," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant's health. "We hope he's able to play on Monday.

"That was severe sprain. That was a severe accident that he had out there. We'll see his recovery. He's pretty good at recovering at things like that."

Bryant has played in all 67 games for the Lakers this season and did not sound like he planned on breaking that streak against Orlando.

"I'll just do what I always do: don't sleep, get treatment around the clock and I should be fine," Bryant said.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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