In the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday afternoon, LeBron James suffered a right ankle injury that kept him out for the remainder of the contest.
The injury was caused by Hawks wing Solomon Hill diving for a loose ball that was at the feet of James. His foot bent inward as Hill’s body came on top of it and James immediately fell to the ground in pain.
James attempted to play through the pain, but after knocking down a three-pointer checked himself out of the game and immediately limped back to the locker room frustrated. He underwent an MRI after the game, which revealed he is dealing with a high ankle sprain that will cause him to be out of action indefinitely.
As for the play itself, Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell was not a fan of it.
“It’s just an instance right there, man. I don’t know if it can be one of those things where he can dive for a loose ball,” Harrell said. “I don’t feel like it was one of those loose-ball plays. He had to go through his legs to get the ball, man. He was turned sideways, the ball was behind him. Your jumping at an angle going across this way. I don’t know how you feel that is a loose ball.”
Harrell did clarify that he did not believe Hill was intentionally looking to injure James on the dive, but simply believes that kind of play deserves a review, especially as it can cause serious injury. One would assume these kinds of plays can be viewed in the same way as the “landing zone” plays for a shooter.
While players rarely intend to injure the opposition on those kinds of plays, the NBA has changed the rules in order to protect shooters and can give out a Flagrant foul for those situations. That same mindset could potentially be used for something like this as James was in between Hill and the ball when he made the dive.
Hill made sure to take to social media after the game to clarify that he was not trying to injure James:
— solomon hill (@solohill) March 20, 2021
For his part, Dennis Schroder also took exception with the play. “I think Solomon Hill has been in the league long enough, I think he came out with me in 2013. So he ain’t got to earn no minutes. He’s established in this league.
“So just an unnecessary play to dive at his legs like that.”
The result of the dive is an unfortunate one and considering how the NBA has treated issues like this in the past, it could be something the league looks into in the offseason.
Harrell believes Lakers can get by without James
Now that the Lakers will be without both of their superstars for a significant period of time, it will be on other players on the roster to step up in their absence.
While Harrell recognizes how challenging it will be, he believes it is a possible task for L.A.
“It’s one of things that happen, man. It’s one of those uncertainties that we’ve got to deal with just like anything else that’s been happening in this year,” Harrell said. “We’ve already played a game without LeBron [James]. We took Sacramento to a tough game and it came down to one of those last-second shots. We ended up losing it, but we’ve proven we can do those type of things.”
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