After a crucial 118-116 win Friday night against Golden State, the Lakers were dealt with the biggest blow of the season.  We've seen injuries to Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash, but none have been as important as the probable Torn Achilles suffered by 34 year old Kobe Bryant.  At this point, the injury is not certain, but it's likely Kobe will miss the rest of the season, though it's only two more games.  The Lakers are currently in position to make the playoffs in the 8th seed, but can still relinquish the spot to Utah with losses in their last two.

Kobe Bryant has been the leader of the Lakers for the last 15 season, carrying them to 5 NBA Titles.  He's been a relentless worker, continuing to improve his game well into his 30's.  Bryant has played through injury after injury and has earned respect from other players referring to him as the toughest player in the league.  Unfortunately for the Lakers, Kobe's injury suffered Friday night won't be played through.

Kobe scored 34 points last night, pushing his season average to 27 ppg.  Without him, the Lakers would likely be one of the worst teams in the entire league.  He's willed the Lakers current run, logging at least 40 minutes in his last 7 games, leaving them in position to make the playoffs.  Now up a full game on Utah, the Lakers and Jazz have two games remaining.

Scenarios

The only way the Lakers can guarantee they'll make the postseason is to win their next games against San Antonio and Houston both in LA.  With only 1 win, they'll make the playoffs if Utah only wins one game.  With losses in both of their final games, the Lakers would need Utah to lose both of their games.

The Jazz do not control their own fate at this point.  They'll be on the road in Minnesota and Memphis to finish the season.  If they win both, they'll make the playoffs if the Lakers only win one game.  With only 1 win, they'll be in if the Lakers lose both.

It looks as though the Lakers should still be able to make the playoffs, but winning their next two without Kobe Bryant will be tougher than anybody can predict.

If the Lakers do make the postseason, they'll be sent packing immediately.  There is no way that the Kobe-less Lakers would put up a fight against either San Antonio or Oklahoma City.

Kobe has already come out this season and said that he'll likely retire after next season.  Now, he'll have to reconsider his options.  If he can rehab quickly and return next season, he could again be in position to push his team into the playoffs and make a Championship run.  If there's one thing that fans of any team should know about the NBA, it would be, "You can't count Kobe out".