As he dribbled along the baseline and leaped into the air, Kobe Bryant could've capped another breathtaking finish.

It would've brought the Lakers back from another double-digit deficit. It also would've marked yet another game where Bryant's determination alone carried him past team lapses and streaky shooting.

Instead, a worst-case scenario happened.

Bryant's 18-foot fadeaway rimmed out with 3.9 seconds remaining, eventually setting up the Lakers' 96-92 loss Wednesday to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.

Bryant then landed on the foot of Atlanta guard Dahntay Jones, causing him to suffer what the Lakers considered a severely sprained left ankle that will sideline him indefinitely.

Bryant headed toward the locker room before it became official the Lakers (34-32) had snapped their four game winning streak. Bryant's X-rays turned out negative and he walked with his ankle taped nursing a limp afterward.

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

He didn't like that Jones positioned his foot so close to him.

"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."