The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been able to get their Big 3 on the court together for an extended run of games, impacting the chemistry between LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.
James and Westbrook had to carry the load for L.A. for over a month after Davis injured his knee in mid-December. Then, knee soreness sidelined James just a game following Davis’ return — and the matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday marks the fourth-time NBA champion’s third straight game missed.
Head coach Frank Vogel said before the game an MRI only revealed only general swelling in James’ left knee. Vogel added the All-Star’s status remains “day-to-day” and that he has already gone to Los Angeles to continue rehab.
“Still has general swelling,” the head coach said of James’ knee. “He will not be at the game today, got a head start on getting back to L.A. to get treatment so he won’t be here today.”
While James could come back in time for Wednesday’s clash with the Portland Trail Blazers, Vogel said the swelling in the forward’s knee has to let up before he can be cleared for the return.
“As long as the swelling is there, he’s gonna be out and we’ll hopefully get him back as soon as he can,” he added.
Vogel emphasized the work of the Lakers’ medical team in ensuring the 37-year-old carefully navigates through his struggles with the minor injuries that have bothered the forward since the start of the season.
“I think about it every day, we’re always mindful of the load that he’s carrying,” the head coach said.
“We’re in constant communication with him and the medical team and in terms of what we do going forward with the knee and where he’s at, it’s really a heavy lean on the medical staff and Mike Mancias and what they feel is best. It’s really not a head coach thing as much as it is relying on the medical team.”
Vogel maintains belief Lakers can still win without James
Even though the Lakers won’t be able to lean on James against the Hawks, Vogel said his team still needs to get back in the win column with the talent it boasts.
“Doesn’t matter how difficult it is, we got to get it done,” he said.
“We lost the last two games and we’re not happy with where we’re at in the standings and we got to get a big win today. We got to do it without LeBron, we have enough but we have to play just a little bit better than we’ve been playing.”
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