Kobe Bryant leaves arena on crutches

It takes something big to overshadow an extremely disappointing, potentially damaging playoff loss. The type suffered by the Lakers Sunday night in New Orleans, for example.

A nasty looking injury to Kobe Bryant certainly qualifies.

Bryant rolled his left ankle and foot late in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and left New Orleans Arena on crutches. ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin has a full report. Watch the clip, here. It certainly looks painful, in part because Bryant seems not simply to roll the ankle sideways, but the foot forward as well. Never a good thing. Still, and this will surprise you, Kobe says he expects to play Tuesday night in Game 5 at Staples.

"I should play," Bryant said. "It's going to take a lot to stop me from playing.

"I'm concerned, as I am about any injury, but I've played through so many of them it kind of becomes old hat for me."

Kobe acknowledged the injury is related to the foot as much as the ankle, differentiating it from other sprains he's dealt with in the past. Different isn't necessarily better. (Most fans would prefer a more "been there, done that" injury.) Either way, while Kobe has played and played well on a wide range of injuries over the years, it's hard to believe he can go from crutches to hunky dory in 48 hours. Even assuming he's well enough to play (like most people, I'd be surprised if he doesn't suit up), Sunday's loss guarantees a quick turnaround for Game 6 in New Orleans Thursday. That's three games in five nights, with two flights in between. Not exactly ideal conditions for healing.

Meaning while Sunday's injury will rightly be a serious talking point in the lead up to Game 5, it's unlikely to drop off the radar anytime soon.