LeBron James Leaves with Ankle Injury as Lakers Fall to Hawks 99-94

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James holds his ankle after going down with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

LeBron James' ankle injury overshadowed the Atlanta Hawks' 99-94 win Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The superstar suffered the injury in the second quarter on a collision with Solomon Hill and did not return.

Atlanta (22-20) took advantage to remain the hottest team in the NBA with its eighth straight victory. John Collins led the way with 27 points and 16 rebounds at the Staples Center while the defense remained strong to force 16 turnovers.

It's the third time in four games the Hawks have held an opponent under 100 points.

Montrezl Harrell finished with 23 points as the Lakers (28-14) lost for the first time since the All-Star break.


Notable Performances

John Collins, PF, ATL: 27 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals

Trae Young, PG, ATL: 14 points, 11 assists

Clint Capela, C, ATL: 8 points, 16 rebounds, 1 block

LeBron James, SF, LAL: 10 points, 4 assists

Montrezl Harrell, C, LAL: 23 points, 11 rebounds

Dennis Schroder, PG, LAL: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals


LeBron Leaves Game Early with Ankle Injury

It was a strong start for James, who distributed the ball well without forcing much himself.

The stats suddenly didn't matter after he suffered an injury in the second quarter while chasing a loose ball:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bron appears to turn his ankle, stays in the game and hits a three, then heads to the locker room https://t.co/OdTrDW77o1

Though he initially stayed in the game, it was clear his ankle was bothering him, and he eventually headed to the locker room:

FOX Sports: Hawks @HawksOnFSSE

LeBron rolled an ankle, stayed in the game, hit a 3, then exited to the locker room. https://t.co/1GPl8dl7Jo

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

LeBron James appeared to tweak his right ankle, per @mcten. He returned to the game briefly before heading to the locker room https://t.co/GYaCkP52bb

Dave McMenamin @mcten

LeBron James has now checked out of the game and tossed over a chair in frustration as he made his way to the locker room.

He was ruled out of the game before halftime.

LeBron still scored 10 points, reaching double figures as he has in every game this season, but the larger concern is his long-term health.

With Anthony Davis already out with an Achilles injury, it suddenly creates a major void for the Lakers.

Los Angeles was able to showcase its depth against the Hawks, quickly overcoming the injury to stay competitive.

Greg Beacham @gregbeacham

The Lakers hung in there quite well after LeBron went down, and they actually lead 53-52 at halftime. Dennis and Wes have 9, Kuzma has 8. It'll be tough to keep that up for the rest of the day without 3 starters and 2 All-NBA guys.

The effort was still there in the second half as well, with Schroder especially working hard despite his own apparent ankle injury.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Give it everything you got. https://t.co/2EeZcLoedk

Harrell also had a solid performance off the bench with 23 and 11.

It still wasn't enough to keep up with Atlanta, which could be a concerning thought if James is forced to miss an extended period.


John Collins Displays Upside with Dominant Showing

Whether his future is in Atlanta or somewhere else, Collins showed he can be a difference-maker on the court.

The forward was a factor from the opening tip against the Lakers, playing physical inside to get buckets around the net:

Atlanta HaWWWWWWWWks @ATLHawks

JC has 18 PTS (8/11 FG) & 9 REB at the break 💪 📹 Presented by @Verizon https://t.co/YiOe2QpptH

Sarah K. Spencer @sarah_k_spence

Just a stellar game from John Collins so far.

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

LAL haven’t had much of an answer for the athleticism of John Collins around the rim tonight. He’s 9 of 11 in LAL’s paint, for 18 of his game-high 25 points.

He nearly had a double-double at halftime to keep the Hawks within one despite Trae Young being held to just four points in the first half.

Collins continued in the second half on his way to one of his best games of the season.

Atlanta HaWWWWWWWWks @ATLHawks

JC doin' work on both ends‼️ https://t.co/TxJEcRAwvd

The 23-year-old is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason and "is drawing heavy interest ahead of the deadline," according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.

With his high level of play Saturday, Collins showed the Hawks should probably keep him around.

Michael Pina @MichaelVPina

writing more about it this week but i have no idea why the hawks don’t/didn’t just pay john collins whatever he wants

Young still made an impact in the game with 11 assists, but he didn't have his best game while shooting 6-of-18 from the field and 0-of-7 from three-point range.

Atlanta needed someone else to step up, and Collins was there for the big game.


What's Next?

The Lakers will go on the road for a key Western Conference battle Sunday against the Phoenix Suns. The Hawks will continue their West Coast road trip Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.