Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James holds his ankle after injuring himself in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 20, 2021.
Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP photo
LeBron James left in the second quarter with a high sprain of the right ankle that the Lakers said he would drop him off indefinitely, and Los Angeles fell between 99 and 94 against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Two hours after the game, the Lakers announced that James would be indefinitely out. The defending NBA champion is already without great All-NBA man Anthony Davis, who has missed 14 games in a row with a right calf injury and probably won’t play again until April.
“Nothing bothers me and grieves me more than not being available for and for my teammates!” James tweeted later on Saturday. “I’m hurt inside and out now. The way back from recovery begins now. Back soon, as if I’d never gone.”
James was injured rolling his ankle under Solomon Hill, who was called for a foul when he awkwardly reached for a theft. The 36-year-old superstar screamed and fell on the pitch, clutching his ankle, but got up and stayed in the game for a moment.
“I haven’t necessarily seen him scream and scream like that, probably never, even with that groin,” said Kyle Kuzma, who was with the Lakers when James missed 17 games with a groin injury two seasons ago. “It must have hurt a little.”
After the injury, James hit a 3-point corner kick that extended his NBA record streak with at least 10 points to 1,036. However, he called for a time-out and left the field shortly afterwards. James knocked over a chair in frustration as he went into the locker room.
“The mood in the team is that we are disappointed that we lost and we have to come back tomorrow and get one,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “I’m not going to reveal what LeBron was like (in the locker room). It’s in the house.”
John Collins had 27 points and a season high of 16 rebounds, and Trae Young added 14 points and 11 assists for the Hawks. They opened an eight-game journey with their eighth straight win under new coach Nate McMillan – but only after their defending champions lost their 17-time all-star to an injury that could shake the NBA’s balance of power if it turns out that this is serious.
After James was eliminated, the remaining Lakers rallied and took the lead by one point at half time, but missed the first eleven shots of the second half. Danilo Gallinari scored 14 of his 18 points at halftime for the Hawks, who have had their longest winning streak since January 2015.
“That was the first thing I said to the guys, we can’t relax because LeBron isn’t in the game,” said McMillan. “We have to keep the pressure on and I thought our boys did that.”
James’ absence left the Lakers without three starters in the second half, and the Hawks took advantage of their first road win over Los Angeles since March 2016. Along with Davis, Marc Gasol missed his seventh straight game since February after being under the health of the NBA Had sat and security logs.
“It’s different without (James) without AD,” said Gallinari. “Of course they’re a different team. But at the same time, all the players who have promoted are NBA veterans with experience, people who have won championships. I would 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 team for the Lakers, whose four-game winning streak ended under much greater concern.
Harrell suggested that Hill’s actions during James’ injury were “not a basketball game” and said officials should have considered giving him more than a personal foul.