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LAKERS: Kobe Bryant was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger Thursday and the All-Star has decided not to undergo surgery that could sideline him for six weeks.


The damage occurred when Bryant dislocated the finger at New Jersey on Feb. 5, and was aggravated in Wednesday night's game at Minnesota.


The team said Thursday that the damage was more extensive than first believed. There is a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament and avulsion fracture, in which a small bone fragment had been pulled off by a tendon.


Bryant was examined in Los Angeles by Dr. Steven Shin , a hand specialist who recommended surgery to repair the ligament.


It was unclear if Bryant will play in Sunday's All-Game at New Orleans. But he will skip the 3-point shooting contest, with Dirk Nowitzki , of Dallas, replacing him.

BOBCATS: Charlotte just snapped a seven-game losing streak, its top scorer (Gerald Wallace ) is hobbled by a sore foot and its rookie coach (Sam Vincent ) is still learning.


In the forgiving Eastern Conference, that doesn't eliminate you from playoff contention. At 19-34 heading into this weekend's All-Star break, the Bobcats are only four games out of the final playoff spot.


Yes, this flawed, inconsistent team still has hope with 29 games left. The finishing schedule is brutal. With their home arena set to play host to three college basketball tournaments, the Bobcats will play 15 of their next 21 games on the road, where they are 4-18.

MUCH-NEEDED BREAK

The All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for Atlanta, which has lost four in a row after falling to Charlotte, 100-98, on Wednesday.

Hawks rookie Acie Law will spend the All-Star break in College Station, Texas, where his alma mater Texas A&M plans to honor him with "Acie Law Day" ceremonies during Saturday's game against Oklahoma State.

Law, whose jersey will be hung from the rafters of Reed Arena during the ceremony, was the Aggies' first All-American.

NEXT: at Los Angeles Lakers

WHEN: 10:30 p.m. Tuesday

TV: SportSouth

RECORD: 21-28


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