Injuries keep derailing the Los Angeles Lakers’ season, as LeBron James has again been forced to take a lengthy break from the court, this time with a knee issue.
James has already missed 15 games in 2021-22. First, the 37-year-old All-Star grappled with ankle and abdomen injuries that started right after the current campaign’s tip-off.
Now, the forward has been ruled out with knee soreness. James appeared on the injury report just a couple of days after Anthony Davis returned to play from over a month-long rehab on a sprained MCL.
The 19-year veteran has already missed three straight games — and recent reports claimed he would not come back for Wednesday’s clash with the Portland Trail Blazers. But head coach Frank Vogel stopped short of ruling out James’ appearance, saying the forward will be listed as “doubtful” for the game.
“Still working on trying to get the swelling down,” Vogel said. “He’s listed as doubtful for tomorrow. He’s not here today. He got treatment outside of our facility today.”
Vogel explained the Lakers want to play it safe with James’ injury, adding the Purple and Gold need to finally find a way to win games even if their leader is out.
“The No. 1 goal is that he’s healthy for the long haul,” the head coach said of James. “Everything else is less important after that.”
“What we have to do is we have to win games when he’s out. That’s what it comes down to. We have enough, but we’ve been close the last couple and haven’t gotten over the hump and we got to get back home and put together some wins until he returns.”
And Vogel added: “I’m sure he wants to be back as soon as possible, but obviously, he’s got to listen to the medical recommendation of what’s best long-term.”
The Lakers have won just five of the 15 clashes they played without James, including the current three-game losing streak. L.A.
Russell Westbrook downplays Lakers’ fall in Western Conference standings
The recent poor run pushed the Lakers down to ninth in the Western Conference standings. L.A. owns a 24-27 record going into the clash with the Trail Blazers, who are 3.0 games behind the Purple and Gold in 10th.
But even though the Lakers have dropped far behind the West’s top teams, Russell Westbrook says he doesn’t feel extra pressure due to the team’s situation in the standings — explaining each team starts with a clean slate come the postseason.
“It’s always in reach,” Westbrook said.
“When you get to the playoffs, it’s 0-0… That’s just how I feel. I feel that when you get to the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter, whatever their record is it doesn’t really matter. You get in the playoffs it’s 0-0 and the best team wins at that particular time of the year.
“If you’re playing better than the eight seed or 1 seed, 2 seed, whatever that may be, it don’t really matter.”
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