In front of a packed Staples Center crowd on Friday night, Kobe Bryant was not going to let his season end short of the playoffs. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happened.
Bryant, who shot just 9-21 with five turnovers, suffered what is a likely Achilles tendon tear that will cost him the rest of the season and possibly longer. It was a tough break for a man that has been tearing it up as of late as he tried to help his dysfunctional ball club and lead them into the postseason. With a win on Saturday night, he may have done just that.
That said, it was helped by horrifically-lopsided officiating.
A 33-17 foul differential. Kobe shot 16 free-throws, Dwight Howard shot 22 free-throws, each individually more than the entire Warriors team, and that’s the difference in the game. Maybe the Lakers just got to the basket more often? Maybe not. Points in the paint were an even 34-34.
Sadly for the Lakers, they shot 34 more free-throws that the Warriors and only managed to win by two points. Golden State won the rebounding battle 44-36 and only had eight turnovers to L.A.’s 12.
Sadly for the NBA, their Lakers push for the playoffs will be spoiled without Kobe Bean Bryant.
The back page for the Lakers, as usual, was Pau Gasol‘s triple-double — and he only got to the line eight times. Gasol once again carried the Lakers in a big game and gets zero credit. He finished 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, shooting an efficient 9-13.
People tend to forget that Gasol, not Kobe, was the most consistent Laker in the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Finals while Kobe takes all the credit. Shooting 6-24 with four turnovers in an NBA Finals Game 7 is anything but valuable.
With the Warriors losing, they remain just 0.5 a game up on the Houston Rockets, who hold the tiebreaker in the chase for the sixth seed. The Lakers remain a full game up on the Utah Jazz, who hold the tiebreaker for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. With just a few games remaining, the playoff seedings are all but locked up.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.