DALLAS — As Courtney Lee crumbled to the ground in the fourth quarter and was unable to walk off under his own power, there was an immediate concern that this injury-riddled Boston Celtics squad was on the verge of losing yet another key player.
Lee said the injury occurred during a dead ball situation in which he landed on the back foot of a Mavericks player.
Fortunately for the Celtics, the injury appears to be just a left ankle sprain which at least gives the C's some hope that he might be able to play on Saturday at Memphis.
The initial pain was pretty intense, but Lee said "now it's just throbbing. Hopefully it'll ... go down a little bit and hopefully I'll be able to go tomorrow (against Memphis)."
This was not the first ankle sprain for Lee, which is why he wasn't that concerned about the injury when it happened.
"Right away it's going to hurt the most," Lee said. "Once it calmed down, I was able to put pressure on it on the bench and I was able to walk off on the court."
Paul Pierce was among the concerned Celtics, fearful that this was going to be yet another hurdle the C's would have to overcome courtesy of an injury.
"We've been so many injuries this year," Pierce said.
C's point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a season-ending torn right ACL injury in February. Just a few days later, rookie big man Jared Sullinger had season-ending back surgery.
Boston also lost Leandro Barbosa to a sprained MCL and torn left ACL injury before eventually trading his contract along with Jason Collins to Washington, in exchange for Jordan Crawford.
There's never a good time for a player to suffer any kind of injury, but the timing of Lee's was particularly bad.
Boston was playing from behind the entire night and were within five points, desperately needing a defensive stop so that they could potentially make it a one-possession game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers saw the injury as it happened, and didn't think it was a major injury.
"I was hoping he could get up because we needed him to get up," Rivers said. "It was the damnedest play. You're making a run, you're down five and you got a guy laying on the floor. It felt like it took 40 seconds."
The C's were in a tough spot at that time as far as what to do.
"Do you foul? You're down five, you don't want to take a foul. You're hoping someone misses a shot and we somehow get a rebound. But it didn't work out for us."
Dallas' O.J. Mayo wound up with an open 3-pointer that put the Mavericks up by eight with 1:21 to play.
Boston would trail by at least eight points for the rest of the game.