Kobe Bryant leads Lakers from bench after injury keeps him sidelined

USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers star couldn't play on his injured ankle but helped coach his teammates from the bench in the team's win over Indiana.

Kobe Bryant gave his teammates everything he had on Friday night despite feeling the effects of a sprained ankle. When the injury forced the Lakers' leader to remain on the bench for the final three quarters of L.A.'s win over the Indiana Pacers, Bryant went into coaching mode, sharing what he saw from the bench to help his teammates gain an advantage on the court.

The Lakers have little margin for error as they continue a late-season surge into playoff contention. After losing the game and Bryant in Atlanta on Wednesday, the Lakers pulled together to frustrate the Pacers by making 13 of 26 three-pointers in a game Metta World Peace described as the team's "biggest win of the season by far."

Following the game, Bryant was given credit for his "coaching" work next to Mike D'Antoni as he relayed defensive coverages and rotations to the players on the court to stay a step ahead of the Pacers. Indiana's league-leading defense required the Lakers to execute well and Bryant made sure they paid attention to all of the details, according to Mark McMenamin.

"Everything is specific," Bryant said. "Everything was just all execution related on what the defense is doing and just making adjustments and trying to take advantage of it."

Bryant said it was all "just reading the defense."

"Just out there seeing what's going on and seeing things we can take advantage of and just trying to make sure I put them in the best position possible to be successful. There's a lot of things where Mike (D'Antoni) has a million things going on in his head and Steve (Nash) and Dwight (Howard) they're all out there in the moment, it's tough to really see all those things. I can see them from the sideline."

The Lakers head home to host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday after finishing their three-game road trip against Eastern Conference competition with a 2-1 record. Bryant will no doubt try to rehab his ankle so he can play on Sunday. While the Lakers would prefer to rely on Kobe's playing ability, if he remains on the sidelines the Lakers will be happy to take advantage of his coaching ability.

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