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The die is cast

Kobe Bryant might sit out the final three games of the season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With only a few games left in the NBA regular season, most of the title races have been decided. At least you hope so if you are ahead, because the final games will see stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James sitting on the sidelines waiting for the second season to begin.

Bryant's coach Phil Jackson has already stated that if Kobe needs to sit the final three games in order to rest his finger, knee and ankle healthy in preparation for defense of their NBA title, he was okay with it.

If that comes to pass, that means his fantasy owners will lose out on his 27.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.6 spg and solid shooting percentages.

Bryant sat out Friday night's contest, but is unsure of Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers. I'm sure the fans in Oklahoma City and San Antonio would love him to play, as well as his fantasy owners, but don't expect it. For the Lakers, the championship's the thing.

The same problem arises for James owners. With Cleveland having clinched everything there is to clinch, "King James" and his 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg, should and will sit the rest of the season.

Charlotte's Stephen Jackson, Atlanta's Joe Johnson and the Cavs' Mo Williams in the Eastern Conference could also sit a few games.

On the other hand, except for the Lakers, the race in the Western Conference precludes many players from resting. With Denver and Utah having just one game in the loss column difference, the Northwest Division crown is still up for grabs. There is also a fight between Utah (52-28) and Phoenix (51-28) to settle and at the bottom of the West standings between Oklahoma City (49-30), Portland (48-31) and San Antonio (48-31). Obviously, no one wants to face the defending champion Lakers, so the battle to get out of the eighth spot could be the most hard-fought of them all.

It means that injured players like Mehmet Okur, Nenad Krstic, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen will probably drag their sore bodies onto the floor. While the Western Division races will be exciting to watch, it probably won't have much of an effect on fantasy titles, which more than likely have already been determined.

Final note; on the off chance that Terrence Williams is available in your league, he did throw up a triple-double yesterday - 27 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and could be a solid late-season substitute for a resting superstar.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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