Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is out indefinitely with a severe left ankle sprain suffered in Wednesday night’s 96-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the team announced.
X-rays were negative.
Bryant would not speculate whether he would play Friday against the Indiana Pacers, but he left Philips Arena on Wednesday walking with a limp but without the aid of crutches.
The Lakers do not practice on Thursday. Bryant’s regiment for the day? “Compression. Ice. Django. Zero Dark Thirty. This is Forty and 1 hour of sleep. #countonwill #countonhaters. On to the next,” he tweeted.
Bryant, who had 31 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Lakers’ 96-92 loss to Atlanta, landed awkwardly after taking a baseline jumper that would have forced overtime if it had gone in with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Bryant appeared to land on Dahntay Jones’ foot and twisted his left ankle, crumpling to the court in pain. No foul was called.
After the game, Bryant said referees need to do a better job protecting shooters from defenders who go underneath them while shooting.
“As defensive players, you can contest shots, but you can’t walk underneath players,” Bryant said. “That’s dangerous for the shooter.”
Bryant later tweeted: “#dangerousplay that should have been called. Period.”
Jones responded via Twitter: “Tape doesn’t lie. Ankle was turned on the floor after the leg kick out that knocked him off balance. I would never try to hurt the man.
He later added: “Leg kick that makes contact with a defensive player is an offense foul. Period. The nba changed that rule 2 yrs ago. Stop it!”
Bryant and Jones have a history. The Hawks’ swingman was called for a flagrant foul for tripping Bryant in Game 4 of the 2009 Western Conference finals when he played for the Denver Nuggets.
The play jogged Bryant’s memory even further than that, all the way back to Game 2 of the 2000 NBA Finals when he played just seven minutes after landing on then-Indiana Pacers guard and current ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose’s foot.
“He Jalen Rose’d me,” Bryant said of Jones on Wednesday night.
Rose admitted on “The Jalen Rose Show,” a podcast on ESPN.com’s Grantland Network, back in September that he purposely stepped under Bryant.
“I can’t say that it was an accident,” Rose said.
A reporter asked Bryant if he felt like Jones’ play was “deliberate.”
“I don’t ever want to put that on somebody, I really don’t,” Bryant said. “I just think players need to be made conscious of it and I think officials need to protect shooters. Period.”
Deliberate or not, Bryant was upset that Wednesday likely was the Lakers’ final game against the Hawks this season.
“I can’t get my mind past the fact that I got to wait a year to get revenge,” he said.
Jodie Meeks subbed in for Bryant with 2.6 seconds left to play after he fell to the floor, at which point Bryant approached the official on the sideline.
“He instructed (Lakers trainer) Gary (Vitti) to come out onto the court and he came out there on the court, which then takes me out of the game permanently; I can’t go back in,” Bryant said. “So that was just a miscommunication I was having a conversation with the official about.”
Lakers forward Earl Clark also suffered a sprained right ankle in the first half and did not play after exiting the game early in the third quarter. X-rays on Clark’s ankle were negative, and he is day to day.
“It didn’t swell up real big,” Clark said. “I can walk, I didn’t need crutches, so it feels pretty good. I’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
The Lakers (34-32) are a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz (33-32) for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.