Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant clutches his left ankle while lying on the floor at Philips Arena late Wednesday during a 96-92 loss to Atlanta. Bryant missed the potential game-tying shot, then came down and landed awkwardly on — he claims — the foot of Hawks guard Dahntay Jones, who Bryant later called out for playing dirty.
ATLANTA — Just hours after Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant suffered a severely sprained ankle on the potential game-winning shot Wednesday night in a 96-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Bryant took to Twitter to blame the injury on Hawks defender Dahntay Jones, whom he landed on as he came down.
“#dangerousplay that should have been called. Period,” Bryant tweeted.
Bryant continued his complaining later, telling ESPN: “As defensive players, you can contest shots, but you can’t walk underneath players. That’s dangerous for the shooter.”
On Thursday, Jones fired back.
“I didn’t try to intentionally come up under him,” Jones said during an interview with ESPN’s Sportscenter. “I was trying to play as hard as I could, to compete at a high level, to try to help my team win and try to contest the jump shot.
“I didn’t want to give up on the play. I take pride in how hard I compete and not give up on plays, and that’s all I was trying to do. It would be very hard for me in a nine-second span to be able to play defense and gauge where I could get my foot up under his as I’m looking at the ball and trying to contest the jump shot.”
The NBA, however, said that while it has reviewed the play and didn’t deem it dirty, it did acknowledge that a foul should’ve been called.
“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,” the league statement said. “Bryant should have been granted two free throws.”
Jones said he didn’t even feel Bryant come down on his foot and question whether the floor actually caused the injury.
“Right after the game, I went to go check the videos because I felt bad because I heard what everybody was saying,” Jones told ESPN. “I wanted to make sure that he didn’t come down on my foot.
“One take looks like it could have been the back of my foot, another take looks like it was the floor. But I didn’t feel anything come down on me.”