Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to Miss 6-to-9 Months With Ruptured Achilles

All-Star guard Kobe Bryant will be out six to nine months after undergoing surgery today to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon, leaving the Los Angeles Lakers without the National Basketball Association’s third-leading scorer as they pursue a playoff berth.

Bryant, 34, was injured in last night’s 118-116 win over Golden State as he tried to drive past the Warriors’ Harrison Barnes with just over three minutes remaining. Bryant told reporters after the game that it was a “freak situation” and a move he’s made a “million times.”

“It’s gone,” Lakers head trainer Gary Vitti said of Bryant’s Achilles tendon. “It has to be sewn back together.”

Bryant, a 15-time All-Star who has helped the Lakers win five NBA titles, was averaging 27.3 points a game this season. He entered today as the NBA’s leader in fourth-quarter points, with 589, and Kevin Durant (558) of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the only other player with more than 500, according to ESPN.

The Lakers are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 43-37 record, one game ahead of the Utah Jazz. With Bryant’s injury, the Lakers’ odds of winning the NBA title moved to 200-1 from 50-1, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book.

“We know he’s out. We can’t put our heads down about it,” Lakers center Dwight Howard was quoted as saying on the team’s Twitter feed. “We’ve got to go and play.”

17th Season

In his 17th NBA season, Bryant was averaging a league-leading 38.6 minutes per game for the Lakers and was third in the NBA in total minutes played. He played a full 48 minutes and scored 47 points in the win over the Portland Trail Blazers three days ago.

Vitti said he expects Bryant to return next season.

Bryant last night said the injury was the biggest disappointment of his career.

“I’ve never had to deal with something like this,” Bryant said. “I worked really hard to get to this point.”

Bryant, who is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history, dismissed questions that the injury might end his career.

“It’s fueling me. I can feel it already,” Bryant said. “It’s just players at this stage of their careers, they pop an Achilles and the pundits say they never come back the same.”

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