Despite having little time to recover from the daunting challenge the 2019-20 season wound up being, the Los Angeles Lakers started the new campaign on a strong foot and recently owned the NBA’s best record.
Many expected L.A. to use load management for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to ensure they would stay injury-free and peak around the start of the playoffs. However, that hasn’t necessarily been the case, and in particular for James.
Davis has missed some time, most recently Thursday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons due to a right quad contusion. But James, who scored a season-high 46 points in his return to Cleveland, has yet to take a night off even though the Lakers added more depth to their roster and brought in another playmaker in Dennis Schroder.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel admitted ahead of the season’s tip-off he accounted for the four-time NBA champion missing a game from time to time. But he said that James “didn’t need” extra rest and decided to stay active on every game day himself — even though he has grappled with a few nagging injuries.
“He’s felt really good and wanted to stay in there,” Vogel explained. “We always give him the green light to stay in there too.
“We trust him to manage his body with communication with the medical team. A little bump and bruise, like the ankle that can be sore from time to time, and we just make these decisions on a game-by-game basis. But plan A is for him to play.”
Vogel added his staff continues evaluating James’ well-being and will adjust the 36-year-old’s workload if necessary. “If there’s a reason why he needs a game off, then we’ll give him a game off,” he said. “There hasn’t been one to this point.”
While James has played in all 20 games thus far, he is averaging a career-low 33.1 minutes.
Vogel takes blame for loss to Pistons
The Lakers appeared to run out of energy in their loss to the Pistons, who also were completing a back-to-back. With their prior defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers, L.A. no longer is undefeated on the road this season and it is the first time they have lost consecutive games.
Vogel felt the team had good energy early against the Pistons before it waned. However, he took blame for various rotations used to help fill the void left by Davis’ absence.
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