As if the third straight loss and sixth in the last seven games wasn’t bad enough for the Los Angeles Lakers, there are now further concerns about the status of superstar LeBron James.
In just his second game back from a high ankle sprain, James would check out with 6:42 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 121-114 defeat to the Toronto Raptors. Not only did James not return to the contest, but he would head back to the locker room well before the final horn rang.
The Lakers would call it right ankle soreness and head coach Frank Vogel spoke on exactly why James did not return. “His ankle is battling some soreness and we decided not to bring him back and we’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow,” Vogel said after the loss.
The team has always played it safe when it comes to injuries and that seems to be the case here as well. Once James felt something, they monitored the situation and ultimately made the decision to sit him down.
Making things tougher for the Lakers is their upcoming schedule as this Raptors game was the first night of a back-to-back. The Lakers host the Denver Nuggets and as it currently stands, James’ status for that contest is unknown.
“The plan is to see how I feel and go from there, but I definitely want to get healthy,” James said. “Not only for myself, but for our team. It’s challenging for us right now, but we’ll be fine.”
Ankle sprains are always difficult to deal with because they can linger on for a long time and there really aren’t many things to speed up the recovery process. James insists his ankle felt fine coming into the contest. Around halftime, however, is when he started feeling something.
“The first half it feels really good and obviously warming up for the game everything is going well. In the last two games at halftime after the break, it’s kind of gotten a little sore on me. A little tight and obviously Coach decided not to put me back in towards the end because of that, so that’s pretty much it.”
The home stretch of this season remains rough for the Lakers, who have been unable to stay healthy and come together ahead of the playoffs. The team is quickly running out of time to develop the necessary chemistry and this latest setback will surely bring doubts as to whether the Lakers will be able to ultimately make that championship run.
James addresses whether he returned from ankle injury too early
With James already experiencing soreness, there may be some questions as to whether he came back too early from his ankle injury. When asked about that possibility, James didn’t exactly dismiss that idea.
“You never know until you get out there because honestly some of the sharp pain that I’m feeling or the pain I’m feeling on the floor I didn’t have in my workouts or during my training or during my running and things of that nature,” James said. “The only way to test it is to get out on the floor and for one, there ain’t no damn practice time. It’s not like you get practice time, you get five on five. It’s not the season for it. We’ve known that since the beginning, so the only opportunity for me to get some live was during the game.
“I don’t want to say I came back too early, but at the end of the day I had to test it to see where I was at.”
The idea of James looking to push through his injury to lead the Lakers into the playoffs is admirable but ultimately could do more harm than good to both himself and the team as a whole. Championships will always be the goal, but the Lakers will not sacrifice player health for that.
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