LOS ANGELES – LeBron James sprained his ankle and is out indefinitely, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Saturday.
James left the Lakers’ 99-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the first half after a collision between Solomon Hill and his right ankle. James knocked over a chair in frustration on his way to the locker room and underwent X-rays and an MRI after the game, according to ESPN.
Hill was fouled with 10:50 left in the second quarter when the Hawks forward fell on James’ right ankle while attempting to steal the ball.
James immediately screamed in pain and rolled off the court holding his right leg. The Lakers took a timeout to check on the 18-year veteran. Several teammates, trainers and medical personnel ran across the court to surround James as he lay on the floor.
“I’ve probably never seen him scream and scowl like that,” teammate Kyle Kuzma said.
Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates! I’m hurt inside and out right now. 🤦🏾♂️. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left. #ThekidfromAKRON🤴🏾
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 21, 2021
Several of James’ teammates took offense to Hill’s involvement in the game.
“A guy dove for a loose ball and got his leg under him,” Montrezl Harrell said. “I really don’t feel like it was one of those loose ball plays. He had to go through his leg to get the ball, man. He was turned to the side. The ball was behind him. I mean, you jump at an angle, go that way, I mean, I don’t know how you think it’s a loose ball. ”
Dennis Schroder agrees.
“It’s a wasted play, jumping in the leg like that,” he said.
After the game, Hill addressed a note on Twitter to critics who might have thought the move was intentional.
James, 36, was able to get up under his own power and limped to the bench, where he laced up his sneakers and stayed in the game after the timeout.
On the Lakers’ first possession after the timeout, James hit a 3 from the corner to increase his stat line to 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting. That kept his streak of 1,036 consecutive games – including Saturday – with 10 or more points alive.
The Lakers took another timeout soon after and James left the game for good with 10:04 left in the second quarter with his team trailing 34-30.
Shortly thereafter, the Lakers announced that he would not be returning.
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and Anthony Davis were among the group of Lakers employees who escorted James to the locker room.
“I’m not going to disclose LeBron’s mood internally,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “That’s internal.”
Kuzma said the team did not see James after the game and the four-time champion did not speak to reporters. However, he wrote an optimistic message on Twitter.
— solomon hill (@solohill) March 20, 2021
The Lakers’ next game is Sunday in the second half of a back-to-back against the Phoenix Suns. James flew with the team for that game, according to a team spokesperson.
Some players expressed optimism about James’ prospects for recovery after the game.
“He’s already recovered and will do so again in a few days,” Schroder said, “so I’m not worried.”
Said Harrell: “The guy is a professional, man. I don’t think it’s going to set him back too much, but he’s only human, man.”
Before Saturday’s game, James was averaging 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists and had played in all but one of the Lakers’ games this season, putting his name at the top of the MVP conversation. L.A. lost the game James missed to rest, 123-120, to the Sacramento Kings just before the All-Star break.
The defending champions were already short-handed, without an All-Star in Davis for the last 14 games because of a strained calf and tendinitis in his right leg, and have played the last seven games without starting center Marc Gasol while he followed the league’s health and safety protocols.
“We have enough offensive power and we have a defensive mentality with our group, so I think we have enough to win,” Vogel said.