Kobe Bryant sprains left ankle, out indefinitely

ATLANTA — Kobe Bryant is considered out indefinitely after suffering a severely sprained left ankle in the final seconds of the Lakers’ 96-92 loss Wednesday to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.

Bryant attempted a baseline jumper only to fall on Dahntay Jones’ foot. Bryant left the game and soon took x-rays that turned out negative. Bryant limped across the locker room with his ankle taped.

Bryant sounded noticeably somber for reasons beyond his uncertainty whether he will play Friday when the Lakers visit the Indiana Pacers.

“Officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant said after scoring 31 points albeit on 11 of 33 shooting. “Defensive players can contest shots. But you can’t walk underneath players.”

Bryant said his current injury marks his most painful one since the 2000 NBA Finals. That’s when Jalen Rose admittedly intentionally hurt Bryant by planting his foot so that he would land on it after a jumper. Jones also drew a retroactive flagrant foul by tripping Bryant in Game 4 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals.

But Bryant refused to say Jones planted his foot intentionally for him to land.

“I don’t ever want to put that on somebody,” Bryant said. “I really don’t. I just think players need to be made conscious of it. I think officials need to protect shooters. Period.”

Bryant then walked out the locker room toward the loading dock wearing headphones and showing a noticeable limp.

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