Lakers' Montrezl Harrell: Play Where LeBron James Was Injured Wasn't Basketball

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, grimaces as he trips and injures himself over Atlanta Hawks forward Tony Snell, bottom, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell criticized Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill for the sequence that forced LeBron James to exit Saturday's 99-94 loss.

James had recovered a loose ball in the second quarter when Hill fell into his right leg.

Harrell told reporters after the game he and his teammates "didn't feel like it was a basketball-type of play."

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

"We didn't feel like it was a basketball-type of play," Montrezl Harrell said of Solomon Hill. "...He had to go through his leg to get through the ball." Said he didn't think it was intentional but it was the kind of play "that we need to go look at."

Dennis Schroder echoed the sentiment, calling it an "unnecessary play."

As Harrell conceded, Hill was probably guilty mostly of being clumsy rather than malicious. The 30-year-old was going for the ball, and his momentum took him into James' leg.

Perhaps the NBA will look into Harrell's suggestion. Referees already have the ability to review plays and potentially award a flagrant foul for excessive contact above the shoulders. Diving for loose balls presents the risk for a different category of injury but can still lead to a serious problem.

Kyle Korver sprained his ankle during the 2015 playoffs when Matthew Dellavedova rolled over the ankle while retrieving the ball. At the time, Dellavedova drew more criticism than Hill since he had built a reputation for playing too recklessly.

It's unclear how badly James was injured Saturday. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported X-rays came back negative, but the MRI results were still pending.