The Los Angeles Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped after coming up short against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, the biggest blow came during the second quarter of their 99-94 loss when LeBron James suffered a right ankle injury that ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the game.
James has since been ruled out indefinitely after an MRI revealed that he is nursing a high ankle sprain. Meanwhile, Solomon Hill continues to receive flak from Lakers’ teammates and social media alike for what they deemed was a reckless act on his part.
Regardless, James appears to be in good spirits after providing a positive update on Twitter:
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
The Lakers were already severely undermanned with Anthony Davis still recovering from a calf strain. The absence of James now leaves a rather notable void for head coach Frank Vogel to fill in the starting lineup.
L.A. struggled to recover from James’ injury, especially on the offensive end of the floor after scoring just 12 points in the third quarter. While it is certainly feasible for them to tighten things up on defense, their multiple scoring droughts are hardly an encouraging sign moving forward.
The timing of the injury is not ideal with the Purple and Gold set to hit the road with a difficult matchup versus the Phoenix Suns and a talented New Orleans Pelicans team in the coming days. They will then return to Staples Center to host the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently boast the best record in the Eastern Conference although are without an MVP candidate of their own in Joel Embiid.
The last time the Lakers were without both James and Davis was against the Sacramento Kings a few weeks ago. Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell led the way with a combined 54 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds. Kyle Kuzma also stepped up with 25 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, but their efforts were not enough in the 123-120 nail biter loss.
Vogel on playing without James and Davis
Although Vogel acknowledged the challenge of playing without both superstars, he feels an emphasis on defense will be the key to winning in their absence.
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge any time you are undermanned, but if you play team-first basketball and you defend at a high level, you have a chance to win. That’ll be our mindset.”
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