LeBron James out indefinitely with injury; LaMelo Ball expected to miss rest of season

The NBA is reeling after injuries to two big names this weekend.

LeBron James left in the second quarter with a high right ankle sprain that the Lakers said will sideline him indefinitely, and Los Angeles went on to fall 99-94 to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Two hours after the game, the Lakers announced that James is out indefinitely. The defending NBA champions already are without All-NBA big man Anthony Davis, who has missed 14 consecutive games with a right calf injury and likely won’t play again until April.

“Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates!” James tweeted later Saturday. “I’m hurt inside and out right now. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left.”

James was hurt when he rolled his ankle under Solomon Hill, who was called for a foul as he reached awkwardly for a steal. The 36-year-old superstar screamed and fell to the court clutching at his ankle, yet he got up and briefly stayed in the game.

“I haven’t necessarily seen him scream and squall like that, probably ever, not even with that groin,” said Kyle Kuzma, who was with the Lakers when James missed 17 games with a groin injury two seasons ago. “It had to hurt a little bit, for sure.”

James’ absence left the Lakers without three starters in the second half, and the Hawks capitalized for their first road victory over Los Angeles since March 2016. Along with Davis, Marc Gasol missed his seventh straight game since February after sitting out under the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Meanwhile, Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball is expected to miss the remainder of the NBA season due to a broken right wrist, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday on condition of anonymity because the team has not made the status of his injury public.

The Hornets said in a release earlier Sunday that Ball had an MRI exam in San Antonio that revealed the injury. The team said he would be listed as out indefinitely.

Ball appeared to be hurt after a fall in the Hornets’ 125-98 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday. Ball appeared to be in discomfort playing into the second half.

The point guard was in the midst of a superb season for the Hornets and was a leading candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year honors.

He is averaging 15.9 points and tops all rookies with 6.1 assists and 1.59 steals per game. The No. 3 pick has helped the Hornets into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, where they sit in eighth place after three straight losses.

The 19-year-old Ball earlier this season became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. He eventually broke into the starting lineup following an injury to Devonte Graham.

He took over as a starter on Feb. 1 and since that point has averaged 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.7 steals in his 21 starts while shooting 46.4% from the field and 42.6% from 3-point range.

Hornets owner and NBA great Michael Jordan recently told the AP that he’s been impressed by the rookie.

“I think Melo has adjusted to the NBA game better than any of us ever thought this early in his career,” Jordan said in an email. “He has exceeded our expectations so far this season.”

The third overall pick in the NBA draft, Ball was the first player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star Break.

He won back-to-back Eastern Conference rookie of the month honors in January and February.

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