The Los Angeles Lakers lost in Atlanta to an undermanned Hawks team, but that loss was quickly pushed to the back pages as Kobe Bryant suffered an ankle injury on a dangerous play where he was undercut after releasing the potential game-tying jump shot with three seconds remaining.
After being helped slowly to his feet, Bryant’s ankle momentarily collapsed before he was able to put weight on it. Before the final buzzer sounded, he hobbled into the locker room without assistance.
X-rays came back negative, and the Lakers listed the 34-year-old as out indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain.
After the game, Bryant shared his frustrations about the play.
"First and foremost, I think officials really need to protect shooters," Bryant started out his press conference. "Defensive players, you can contest shots but you can’t walk underneath players. That’s dangerous for the shooter."
Bryant was not happy and said he did not know if playing Friday against the Indiana Pacers was a possibility.
"It’s just a very very dangerous play," Bryant added. "Especially if I’m fading away, there is no rhyme or reason why I should come down anywhere near somebody’s foot."
Bryant would not go so far as to accuse Dahntay Jones of being a dirty player and walking under him to cause injury, but the two do have history.
"I can’t get my mind past the fact that I got to wait a year to get revenge," Bryant said, hinting that he was filing away this play for future meetings.
Atlanta was without Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia, so the Lakers missed an opportunity to walk away with a vital road win. Still, with Utah losing at Oklahoma City, the Lakers were able to retain the eighth spot ahead of the Jazz, so all was not lost.
However, Bryant was not the only Laker to suffer an injury against the Hawks.
Earl Clark went up for a rebound and landed on Johan Petro’s foot. The X-rays on his sprained ankle were also negative, and he tried to continue playing. But Clark was limited to only 13 minutes -- partly due to Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni deciding against putting the forward back in.
"I’ll be ready to go on Friday," Clark said confidently after the game.