LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Lakers won without Kobe Bryant, and it might be quite a while before they’ll get their next chance to win with him.
“I’m guessing it might be weeks, it just doesn’t feel like a day-to-day thing,” Bryant said afterward when asked how long he thinks he’ll be sidelined.
“It hurts, it hurts a lot,” Bryant said. “It’s the worst one I’ve had—I am in a lot of pain right now. I am just trying to stay off of it right now.”
On crutches with his ankle wrapped, Bryant said he felt “crunching and instant throbbing” when he went down.
X-rays were negative, but Bryant will have an MRI on Friday.
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.
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.
“He went up for a 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.”
Bryant immediately grabbed his ankle before 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.
“There’s no fracture, I’m happy about that,” Bryant said. “I’ll just rest, guys will hold down the fort no doubt and I will come back ready to play.”
Bryant injured his right shoulder late in the first quarter of a game against the Cavaliers last January at Staples Center when he collided with former Cleveland guard Kedrick Brown, causing him to miss six games.
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.
“We played without the best player in the league and still won,” Odom said. “We’ll be waiting for him. This team has guys who can play.”
Butler said when Bryant was injured, his teammates simply competed harder.
“You felt it—guys just took the challenge,” Butler said. “The second he went down, everybody knew they had to take their game up another notch.”
Robert Traylor scored his first four points of the game during a 10-3 run that gave the Cavaliers a 67-61 lead. Atkins then got his first seven during a 10-4 Los Angeles spurt to finish the third quarter that tied the game 71-all.
After a basket by James gave Cleveland a 32-24 lead—largest of the game for either team—the Lakers went on a 16-5 run to put them ahead 40-37, and they led 49-47 at halftime.
The Lakers are the only NBA team with a winning record that hasn’t had a three-game winning streak this season. They’ve won two in a row seven times. Other teams who haven’t won at least three straight are Portland (15-19), New Jersey (12-23), Charlotte (8-23), Atlanta (6-26) and New Orleans (4-30). … The Lakers have beaten the Cavaliers four straight times and have won 10 of the last 11 games between the teams. … Cavaliers rookie Luke Jackson underwent surgery Thursday for a herniated disc in his back. He will miss the rest of the season, but is expected to fully recover. … McInnis went 111 minutes over four games without a turnover before committing one with five minutes left before halftime.