Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is out indefinitely and says he is seeking revenge after severely spraining his ankle in the closing seconds of a 96-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The injury takes away the Lakers’ top scorer as they try to make the playoffs.
Bryant missed what would have been a game-tying shot with 3.9 seconds left at Philips Arena in Atlanta last night and landed on the foot of defender Dahntay Jones before falling to the court in pain. X-rays were negative, though Bryant said it was the worst ankle injury he’d had since the 2000 National Basketball Association Finals.
“First and foremost, officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant told reporters. “As defensive players you can contest shots but you can’t walk underneath players. That’s dangerous for the shooter.”
Bryant’s 27.5 points per game this season are tied for second in the NBA. He’s also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
Bryant missed one game after landing on the foot of Jalen Rose in Game 2 of the 2000 Finals, which the Lakers won 4-2.
“He Jalen Rose’d me,” Bryant said of Jones’s play.
Jones later said in Twitter posts that he would never intentionally try to injure Bryant.
“Tape doesn’t lie,” Jones said. “Ankle was turned on the floor after the leg kick out that knocked him off balance. I would never try to hurt the man.”
In a post that followed, Jones said it should have been an offensive foul on Bryant.
“Leg kick that makes contact with a defensive player is an offense foul. Period,” he said. “The NBA changed that rule 2 yrs ago. Stop it!”
Bryant, who scored 31 points in the defeat, said he hadn’t thought about what he was going to do over the next couple of days. The Lakers and Hawks aren’t scheduled to play again this season.
“I can’t get my mind past the fact that I’ve got to wait a year to get revenge,” he said.
The loss dropped the Lakers to 34-32, in eighth place in the NBA’s Western Conference and a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot.
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