Fractured Finger? What Fractured Finger?

Every other player in the NBA would be sitting in street clothes, Kobe is out there scoring 42 points.

Hours before the Lakers took on the Chicago Bulls Tuesday, Kobe Bryant was out working on his shot. Which is not that uncommon.

What was different was the splint on the index finger of his right hand — his shooting hand. The split was there to hold the first joint still so the avulsion fracture — where the tendon comes off and takes a piece of the bone with it — can heal. Kobe was trying out the plastic splint the team had devised, something changed after he had struggled in his last game with the metal splint the team doctors had supplied.

When the game starts, Kobe misses his first two shots, and there is some concern among Lakers fans: Should he really be playing through this? Is the team better with him resting?

Then Kobe’s third shot fell. And the next one. And the one after that. Pretty soon Kobe had dropped eight shots in a row, doing it in such a dramatic fashion that the Bulls fans in the United Center were buzzing on every shot.

It was the old Kobe — he had a mismatch and he was going to exploit it. Broken finger or not, nothing was going to slow him down. He finished the night with 42 points in leading the Lakers to an otherwise ugly win (improving the Lakers to 19-4 on the season).

Here’s what you need to know about an avulsion fracture — it hurts. A lot. For several weeks. Every time he catches a pass or dribbles with his right hand or takes a shot or gets it slapped by an opposing player, it’s going to hurt. Every other player in the NBA would be in street clothes for a few weeks. Not Kobe. That’s not the way he is wired. He goes out and drops 42.

Not everything was perfect, the finger seemed to effect Kobe’s ball handling — he had eight turnovers in the game. Phil Jackson suggested the finger was the reason in interviews after the game.

But Jackson had a huge grin on his face after Kobe dropped his sixth of the eight in a row. Jackson knows a special player when he sees one. He knows Kobe will figure out how to limit the turnovers and keep scoring.

He knows, fractured finger or not, his Lakers are going to be just fine.

Kurt Helin lives in Los Angeles where he is runs the NBA/Lakers blog Forum Blue & Gold (which you can also follow in twitter).

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