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When the curtains come up near Broadway for the Lakers and New York Knicks tonight, the role of Kobe Bryant will be played by Maurice Evans.

Nobody likes to pay Broadway ticket prices to see the understudy, but the NBA has suspended Kobe for tonight’s game in New York because of his “intentional” elbowing of Manu Ginobli of the San Antonio Spurs with 2.7 seconds left in Sunday’s game.

Watch the video for yourself -- that is just basketball, nothing warranting a suspension. Ginobli made a good play to get the block; Kobe was trying to draw a foul. Nothing malicious. No foul was called at the time, Kobe was not tossed from the game. It’s an interesting decision from the league office, one that will piss off New Yorkers who paid a lot of money to see one of the NBA’s shining stars in his one trip to the city this season.

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This also makes it a tough way for the Lakers to start an eight-game road trip through the East Coast. This trip used to be something to fear, but right now the teams in the East would barely strike fear into players at a YMCA pick-up game -- the top team in the East is Washington at 26-7, a record worse than that of the sixth-in-the-West Lakers. It’s still a long and cold road trip, but it’s also a chance for the Lakers to get warm.

And let us give you a friendly reminder: If you listen to the game on the radio while driving home (4:30, AM 570) when you walk through the door you’ll get to see what you just heard -- KCAL9 is tape delaying the game an hour, starting at 5:30.

AP Photo by Kevork Djansezian