LeBron exits game with ankle injury as Lakers slump to Hawks
LOS ANGELES – LeBron James limped off injured as the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to defeat against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Lakers superstar James exited for the NBA champions in the second quarter after appearing to roll his right ankle in a collision with Atlanta’s Solomon Hill.
James collapsed to the Staples Center court and writhed in pain, clutching his right ankle before returning to the game briefly.
He hit a three-pointer after heading back on court but soon afterwards left the game for good with his athletic trainer, knocking over a chair in frustration on his way to the locker room
Any serious injury to James would be a devastating blow to the Lakers, who are already without star Anthony Davis due to a long-term injury.
James and Davis were the key figures in the Lakers’ championship-winning season last year.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was unable to provide details of James’ injury following the game as reports said the star was undergoing an MRI scan.
“He’s got an ankle injury, and that’s all the information I have at this time,” Vogel said.
The Lakers coach admitted James’ injury would be a challenge but backed his team to adjust to the star’s absence.
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge any time you’re undermanned,” Vogel said. “But if you play team first basketball and you defend at our level you’ll have a chance to win and that’ll be our mindset.
“Anytime any guy is out you adjust and play with the guys that are in there. This will be no different.
The Lakers went on to lose the game 99-94 as the red-hot Hawks extended their winning streak to eight games.
John Collins led the scoring for Atlanta with 27 points and 16 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari added 18 off the bench.
Montrezl Harrell top-scored for the Lakers in James’s absence, with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Vogel meanwhile declined to comment on the mood in the Lakers locker room over James’ injury.
“The mood of the team is that we’re disappointed, we’re lost,” Vogel said. “I won’t disclose what LeBron was like internally. We keep that in-house.”
Lakers team-mates Kyle Kuzma and Harrell admitted that the sight of James leaving the arena was unnerving.
“He’s one of these guys who takes care of his body to an extreme amount,” Harrell said. “He has all the high-tier recovery gear. He eats, sleeps and prepares his body right. He’s the first one in this arena on gameday, and he’s the first one at the facility on practice days.
“We do forget he’s human sometimes, to see him in pain like that.”
Kuzma meanwhile said he didn’t have a clear view of the incident that injured James but added: “I haven’t seen him scream like that, ever. It had to hurt a little bit, for sure.”
The Lakers fell to 28-14 with the loss to remain in second place in the Western Conference while the Hawks improved to 22-20 in the Eastern Conference standings.
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