Los Angeles Lakers striker LeBron James is holding on to his ankle after falling with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, March 20, 2021 in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP Photo
LeBron James left in the second quarter with a high sprain of the right wrist which the Lakers said would remove it indefinitely, and Los Angeles dropped 99-94 to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Two hours after the game, the Lakers announced that James was indefinitely. NBA champion defender no longer has All-NBA great Anthony Davis, who missed 14 consecutive games with a right lower leg injury and is unlikely to play until April.
“Nothing makes me angry and sadder more than not being available to my teammates and to them!” James tweeted later Saturday. “I’m currently injured inside and out. The road back from recovery is starting. I’ll be back soon as if I’ve never left.”
James was injured when he rolled his ankle under Solomon Hill, who was called to the offense for clumsily reaching for the theft. The 36-year-old superstar screamed and fell to the field holding on to his ankle, but he still got up and stayed in the game for a short time.
“I didn’t necessarily see him scream and croak like that, probably ever, even with those groins,” said Kyle Kuzma, who was in the Lakers when James missed 17 games with a groin injury two seasons ago. “It must have hurt a little, for sure.”
After the injury, James hit a corner that extended his NBA game series from at least 10 points to 1,036, but called a timeout and left the field shortly thereafter. James collapsed his chair in frustration as he walked into the locker room.
“The team’s mood is that we’re disappointed we lost, and we have to go back tomorrow and win it,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I’m not going to find out what LeBron was like (in the locker room). It’s in the house.”
John Collins had 27 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, and Trae Young added 14 points and 11 assists for the Hawks. They opened the eight-game journey with their eighth straight win under new coach Nate McMillan – but only after their Champions League defenders lost the 17-year-old All-Star to an injury that could shake the NBA’s balance of power if it turns out to be serious.
After James came out, the remaining Lakers came together and actually took one point by halftime, but missed their first 11 shots in the second half. Danilo Gallinari scored 14 of his 18 points after half-time for the Hawks, who are in the longest winning streak since January 2015.
“That was the first thing I told the guys: We can’t relax because LeBron isn’t in the game,” McMillan said. “We have to keep up the pressure and I thought it was our guys who did it.”
James ’absence left the Lakers without three starters in the second half, and the Hawks capitalized on their first road win over Los Angeles since March 2016. Along with Davis, Marc Gasol also missed his seventh straight game since February after passing under NBA health and security protocols.
“It’s different without (James), without AD,” Gallinari said. “Of course they’re a different team. But at the same time, all the players who have come forward are all the NBA veterans with experience, the guys who have won championships. I’d say it’s a very good win anyway.”
Montrezl Harrell had 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Dennis Schröder had 16 points and seven assists against his former Lakers team, whose four-win streak ended amid much bigger concerns.
Harrell suggested that Hill’s actions during James’ injury “were not a basketball game,” and said officers should have considered inflicting more than a personal mistake on him.