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Injured Bryant the most valuable player to NBA spreads

It seemed like nothing could stop the Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason push. And then Kobe Bryant crumbled to the floor, clutching his left ankle in the dying seconds of Wednesday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Bryant suffered a severe sprained ankle with just 3.9 seconds remaining in the game and although his X-rays came back negative, the Lakers’ star player is still hurting from the injury. Kobe was limited to just 12 minutes, failing to convert a field goal in Friday's win over Indiana. Los Angeles hosts the Sacramento Kings Sunday and the spread for that game will be dramatically impacted by Bryant’s status.

Oddsmakers have set the Lakers as 9.5-point favorites with the total at 208 points. Bryant is officially listed as a game-time decision.

“I would think Kobe is the top guy when it comes to value (to the spread) this year,” Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, told Covers. “His worth (to the spread) is definitely more than LeBron (James) since he pretty much carries that team on his back. He brought them back in that game last night by scoring 20 points in the third quarter.”

Stewart says Bryant is worth as many as four points to the Lakers’ spread. While James is arguably the best player in the NBA, his worth to the Miami Heat’s pointspreads is not as high as bettors would expect because of the surplus of talent on Miami’s roster.

For Los Angeles, Bryant has been the glue in an up-and-down year. The Lakers may have an abundance of All-Star names but have struggled to jell until recently. They’ve won 18 of their last 25 games (12-13 ATS) to move into a playoff spot, with Bryant single-handedly willing L.A. to many of those victories. His 27.1 points per game make up more than a quarter of the team’s overall offense.

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