Kobe Bryant says Dahntay Jones’ dangerous defense left him with a sprained left ankle, and the NBA agreed.
Now, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping the injury doesn’t keep their star away from a playoff push for long.
Bryant spent Thursday getting several hours of treatment on what he called the worst sprained ankle of his 17 NBA seasons, hoping to be healthy for Friday’s game at Indiana.
Although the Lakers offered no update on his condition after saying Bryant was out “indefinitely,” the NBA acknowledged Jones should have been called for a foul on the play that left Bryant crumpled on the court in Atlanta.
The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history was hurt when he landed on Jones’ foot with 4 seconds left after attempting a potential tying jumper in the Lakers’ 96-92 loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night.
Bryant rolled on the ground and eventually left the court in anger and pain, furious about Jones’ questionable tactics in sliding underneath him while Bryant hung in the air.
Bryant tweeted about it Thursday, including a hashtag: “cleanupthegame.”
The NBA later said video replay confirmed Bryant was fouled.
“After review at the league office, video replay confirmed that referees missed a foul call on Jones as he challenged Bryant’s shot and did not give him the opportunity to land cleanly back on the floor,” said the statement on the NBA’s web site. “Bryant should have been granted two free throws.”
Bryant tweeted that his ankle was “still very swollen. Treatment all day.” The Lakers had the day off Thursday in Indianapolis, the final stop on their three-game road trip.
As some Lakers players meandered in and out of the team hotel, Bryant was not seen.
Bryant’s shot would have tied the game if he made it, which means the no-call played a role in costing the Lakers a valuable victory in their playoff push. With 17 wins in 23 games before their loss to Atlanta, the Lakers (34-32) are a half-game ahead of Utah (33-32) for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The team and Bryant did not immediately respond to a request for comment.