The Los Angeles Lakers lost more than the game on Saturday after LeBron James limped from the court with an ankle injury early in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta’s Solomon Hill was attempting a steal when he collided with James, forcing one of the league’s most dominant players to collapse in pain en route to his side’s 99-94 defeat.
The Lakers said the 36-year-old had hurt his right ankle, which further complicates matters for a team already missing eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis for more than a month as he continues to battle Achilles tendinosis and a right calf strain.
The injuries could hit the defending champions hard, with Los Angeles currently third in the Western Conference but only 2.5 games ahead of the sixth place Charlotte Hornets as the regular season enters its final month.
The fourth-placed Los Angeles Clippers humbled the Charlotte Hornets 125-98, while the Memphis Grizzlies won 111-103 over the Golden State Warriors.
The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers did away with the Sacramento Kings 129-105 but have their own injury concerns.
Ben Simmons pulled up sore following the pre-game shoot-around and becomes Philadelphia’s third starter currently off the court after injuries to Joel Embiid and Seth Curry.
The conference’s third-placed Milwaukee Bucks beat the San Antonio Spurs 120-113 courtesy of an impressive 20-10 run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Bucks claimed their season-best sixth consecutive win as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points, Khris Middleton added 23 more and Jrue Holiday had 21.