Lakers Beat Cavs but Kobe Sprains Ankle

Friday, January 14th 2005, 6:25 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The instant Kobe Bryant crashed to the floor, he knew he was in trouble. He severely sprained his right ankle and had to be helped off the court early in the Los Angeles Lakers' 98-94 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

``I'm guessing it might be weeks _ it just doesn't feel like a day-to-day thing,'' Bryant said when asked how long he thinks he'll be sidelined.

``It hurts, it hurts a lot. It's the worst one I've had,'' he said. ``I am in a lot of pain right now. I am just trying to stay off of it right now.''

Bryant, the NBA's second-leading scorer with a 28.2-point average, was injured when he landed on Ira Newble's right foot while going for a rebound under the Cavaliers' basket with 5:39 left in the first quarter. Newble was called for a foul on the play.

``Crunching and instant throbbing'' is how Bryant described his immediate feeling.

``He went up for the rebound and I kind of nudged him a little bit by mistake and basically fell into him as my momentum was going that way,'' Newble said. ``I was trying to catch myself and he came down on his ankle funny. It's just an accident.''

X-rays were negative, but Bryant was scheduled to have an MRI on Friday. He was on crutches after the game with his ankle wrapped.

``The worst it can get is that I have a couple tears in there and that is not season-ending by any means,'' he said. ``It is just rest and recuperation and I am happy about that. I am happy it's just an MRI and there is no fracture or anything like that. I just need to rest. Guys will hold down the fort no doubt and I will come back ready to play.''

In other NBA games, Houston beat New Jersey 94-85 in overtime and Sacramento topped Utah 107-93.

Bryant grabbed his ankle in obvious pain upon hitting the floor. Teammate Brian Grant and trainer Gary Vitti helped him off the court and into the Staples Center tunnel, where Grant and injured Los Angeles forward Devean George carried him into the locker room.

Bryant had two points and three assists before leaving with the game tied at 15.

Lamar Odom had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Caron Butler added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the third time in four games.

James led Cleveland with 28 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and nine assists to just miss his first career triple-double. Jeff McInnis added 20 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

James visited the Lakers' locker room at halftime to check on Bryant.

``I just went in there to see how he was doing,'' James said. ``He told me that he was likely going to be out for a little bit, but I hope he gets well soon. (He's) like an idol to me.''

Eric Snow's 3-pointer _ his only points of the game _ gave the Cavaliers an 87-86 lead with 2:41 to play. But a basket by Odom and two free throws by Chucky Atkins put the Lakers on top 90-87 with 1:38 left.

Ilgauskas made a free throw to draw the Cavaliers within two points, but Atkins and Butler made two foul shots each to put the Lakers ahead 94-88 with 22.4 seconds remaining.

McInnis and James made 3-pointers to move the Cavaliers within one point with 9.8 seconds to go. Butler made a foul shot before James missed a 3-pointer that could have given Cleveland the lead.

``All the shots I took tonight felt pretty good _ especially that one,'' James said.

Odom's two free throws with 1.8 seconds to play completed the scoring.

``Tonight was our best defensive game,'' Odom said. ``We played without the best player in the league and still won. We'll be waiting for him. This team has guys who can play.''

Rockets 104, Nets 95, OT

Bobby Sura scored a career-high 35 points for the Rockets, making 11-of-16 shots including 6-of-7 from 3-point range.

Juwan Howard scored eight of his 12 points in overtime, and a hobbled Tracy McGrady added 18 points for the Rockets, who won their third straight.

Jason Kidd narrowly missed a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Vince Carter had 17 points for the visiting Nets, who dropped their third in a row.

Kings 107, Jazz 93

Peja Stojakovic scored 27 points, Chris Webber had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Brad Miller added 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting for the host Kings, who had just nine players in uniform for the second straight game.

Mike Bibby sat out with a sprained ankle, and the Kings lost Greg Ostertag and Maurice Evans to injuries during a physical game featuring plenty of hard contact and confrontations.

Carlos Boozer had 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Jazz, who followed up surprising victories over Phoenix and San Antonio with their 10th loss in 12 games.