It is an old story in the NBA. Superstar goes down, team plays extra hard and wins anyway.
Indeed, Bryant tried to play at Indiana, but missed his first four shots and headed to the bench and out of proceedings for the night.
The Pacers are the second-best team in the Eastern Conference and should have had a major advantage as a result, playing at home, against a team without its top player.
Final score: Lakers 99, Pacers 93.
Two nights before that, the Lakers lost to Atlanta, the Hawks playing without their best, Josh Smith.
The week before, the New York Knicks were already without their ace, Carmelo Anthony, when their next go-to guy, Amar'e Stoudemire, was lost to a knee injury on the eve of a game against Utah, a Western Conference playoff contender.
Final score: Knicks 113, Jazz 84.
Earlier this year, when the Boston spark plug Rajon Rondo tore up his knee, the Celtics beat Miami first, then six more teams.
No one would suggest that the Lakers are better off in the long run without Bryant in the line-up.
But short term? When the supporting cast senses a need to work harder, it is never a bad thing.
It is also not a bad thing to be reminded that even star-giddy NBA basketball is a team sport.
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