The Los Angeles Lakers saw their four-game win streak snapped against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday afternoon, but the big story coming out of the contest was the health of superstar LeBron James.
In the second quarter, James suffered a right ankle injury while fighting for a loose ball.
The Hawks’ Solomon Hill dove for a ball that was on the ground and in the process rolled over James’ foot, causing him to fall to the ground in pain. As opposed to the more common sprain seen in basketball, James’ foot actually bent inwards which was even more of a cause for concern.
James would attempt to play through the injury, staying in after a timeout and hitting a 3-pointer, but he would soon check himself out and did not return to the game. After the contest, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel did not have much of an update on James’ status moving forward.
“He’s got an ankle injury and that’s all the information I have at this time,” Vogel said.
He underwent an MRI though, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, he will be out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain:
Lakers star LeBron James will now be out indefinitely, sources said. https://t.co/ALE4YCqM0C
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 20, 2021
The Lakers then went on to confirm the injury diagnosis, although they did not give a timetable for James’ return.
Unfortunately, this is the latest in a string of Lakers injuries to befell the team this season. Anthony Davis is still recovering from his calf and Achilles issues and starting center Marc Gasol has missed the last few games due to being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. At least in the case of Gasol, he has been cleared to return and will likely be back in the lineup soon. Additionally, veteran Jared Dudley suffered a torn MCL and is likely out for the season.
With both superstars potentially out for some time, a lot of pressure will turn to the rest of the Lakers and Vogel as well. Just as the team seemed to be hitting their stride, another injury threatens to derail what the team hopes to accomplish this season.
Vogel emphasizes need for team basketball amidst injuries
The Lakers did make a number of moves in order to improve their depth this season and now that will be seriously tested. Vogel didn’t shy away from the difficulties the team is facing. “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,” the coach noted after the loss to the Hawks.
The focus will be on the likes of Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Talen Horton-Tucker to really help carry the Lakers’ offense. No one player will be able to replace the losses the Lakers are suffering so they will need a collective effort to make it through this.
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