After missing the past five games with knee soreness, LeBron James made his return to the court against the New York Knicks and delivered in a huge way to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a win.
James showed little to no effects of the knee injury, recording 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists in 40 minutes of action. With the Lakers trailing at halftime, James kicked it into high gear on both ends of the floor by flashing his normal physicality and athleticism in the open court.
While James appeared to be moving just fine in the first half, he acknowledged that it took some time for his knee to warm up.
“After the first quarter the knee loosened up a lot more, my mind loosened up a lot more and I was able just to play basketball,” James said. “Just excited to be back in a uniform, back on the floor with my guys. Missed them, missed the game. Happy I was able to make a few plays to help us win the ball game.”
The 37-year-old sounded like a true game-time decision because of head coach Frank Vogel’s pregame comments, and even though he ended up playing, James admitted he did not feel 100 percent during his pregame warmup.
“I didn’t feel that great in my pregame warmup, to be honest. I didn’t feel as bad as the last warmup I had in Charlotte. That was the last time I tried to do anything on the court. I didn’t feel worse than that day, so I just gave it a shot, see what happens and you saw what happened.”
Perhaps it was the pressure to come back because of the Lakers’ inconsistent play that prompted James to give it a shot, but to hear him say he did not feel great leaves some concern for his availability in the short term. Los Angeles can not afford to lose many games given their place in the standings, but the team needs to be smart about how they handle James’ minutes especially with the All-Star break looming.
For now, the key thing to watch will be how James’ knee responds in the coming days after playing so many minutes in his first game back. Fortunately, the Lakers have two days off before their game on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks so hopefully the star responds well to treatment and is able to suit up again.
Carmelo Anthony day-to-day with hamstring strain
It was good to see James come back against the Knicks, but the Lakers were still missing a key rotation member in Carmelo Anthony, who injured his hamstring against the L.A. Clippers. While it looked bad, the Lakers reportedly have optimism that it is not serious and they are considering Anthony day-to-day going forward.
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