LOS ANGELES -

Kobe Bryant is expected to miss about 6 weeks with an injured left knee, dealing the second major injury setback of the year to the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar guard.

An MRI exam yesterday revealed Bryant has a fracture in his lateral tibial plateau - the top of his shinbone near his knee.

Bryant made his season debut with the Lakers on Dec. 8 after nearly 8 months away while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon. He apparently was hurt again Tuesday in Memphis while playing his fourth game in five nights.

After playing six games in 10 days, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history is out again until February or longer - and the Lakers' already miserable run of injuries got even uglier.

"You hate it for Kobe," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's worked so hard to get back, but he'll be back. He'll be back in 6 weeks. We've just got to weather the storm until he gets back."

The Lakers also announced Steve Nash will be out for at least 4 more weeks with nerve root irritation, leaving injury-riddled Los Angeles without its top three point guards and Bryant - who filled in at the point in recent games - for at least another week.

Yesterday afternoon, a tweet was posted on Bryant's official Twitter account that consisted solely of the hashtag: #BrokenNotBeaten.

"I think he'll be back in 6 weeks, and he'll be hunting for some bear," D'Antoni said.

D'Antoni immediately faced questions about whether the Lakers allowed Bryant to return too quickly from his torn Achilles' tendon. Athletes with an Achilles' injury must remain immobile for months, and they typically need several weeks to regain muscle in their legs and get back into game shape.

Los Angeles signed Bryant to a 2-year, $48.5 million contract extension last month, taking him into his 20th season with the Lakers. Most of Los Angeles' roster will be free agents this summer.

Bryant matched his season high with 21 points in the Lakers' win at Memphis, but he went to the floor with 3:25 left in the third quarter. He stayed on the floor briefly before standing up, and bent over at the waist as he flexed his left leg back and forth.