As Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tumbled to the floor, the fall sparked two reactions.
With James turning his right ankle and yelling in pain in the second quarter of Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Lakers hoped this did not mean an extended absence for him only two years after he missed a combined 27 games because of a strained left groin. After the Lakers’ 99-94 loss to the Hawks on Saturday, the Lakers diagnosed James with a high right ankle sprain and ruled him out indefinitely.
“I haven’t necessarily seen him scream and scowl like that probably ever, even with that groin,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “It had to probably hurt a little bit for sure.”
Some of other James’ teammates also suggested that Hawks guard Solomon Hill deserves some blame. James fell on the ground after Hill tried to knock the ball out of his hands. Solomon then fell on James’ right ankle with 10:50 left in the second quarter.
“It was a tough play. Guy dove for a loose ball and kicked his leg from under him. We didn’t feel like it was one of those basketball type plays,” Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell said. “But that’s neither here nor there.”
Hill responded on Twitter, saying, he “would never disrespect the game and take a player out purposely.” Harrell conceded as much, adding, “I don’t think it’s one of those plays that he tried to do it. But at the end of the day, it’s one of those things you have to look at.”
Despite James yelling in pain, he soon stood up on his own and limped back to the bench without any assistance. After the Lakers’ timeout, James then drilled a 3-pointer on the next play. But James then walked off the court, knocked over a chair in frustration and went to the locker room. He did not play the rest of the game.
“I won’t disclose what any mood of what LeBron was like internally,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s in house.”
Still, that leaves the Lakers (28-14) in a precarious position despite ranking third in the Western Conference. James, 36, is among the NBA’s MVP candidates by averaging 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists and only missing one game earlier this season. The Lakers have also been without All-Star forward Anthony Davis for the past 14 games because of a strained right calf. The Lakers plan to evaluate Davis in about a week.