What was considered a peak moment in the season has remained as such as the Los Angeles Lakers went into a slide following an impressive win on Christmas against the Golden State Warriors. Their decline and struggles since can be directly tied to LeBron James missing 17 games because of a strained groin.
His absence was compounded by Rajon Rondo also suffering an injury in the victory — a hand fracture that sidelined him for 14 games. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee were among players who missed time while James and Rondo were each recovering.
James and Rondo returning didn’t immediately right the ship for the Lakers; they went into the All-Star break just 2-4 in their last six games. James played in all but one of those contests.
Now having enjoyed 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, he’s focused on the Lakers’ remaining 25 games. “I feel great. Sorry to cut you off, Joe, but I feel great,” James said.
“Looking forward to the second half of the season. Looking forward to seeing what we can do to get back in this playoff race. That’s my only mindset. That’s the only thing that’s going to happen in my mental space for these next two months. Pretty much on how I can get this team playing the type of level of basketball we were playing before my injury.”
The Lakers’ struggles even with James and Rondo back in the lineup have been attributed to rampant Anthony Davis trade rumors leading up to the deadline, as well as Ball’s absence. His void has become particularly noticeable on the defensive end, where the Lakers once were a top-10 unit.
Ball was recently said to be running on an underwater treadmill and recovering well from his Grade 3 sprained left ankle. He nonetheless figures to be out for at least one to two weeks, which will put even more on James’ plate.
Reminder: Vivid Seats is the Official Ticket Reseller of LakersNation.com. New Customers use “LAKERSNATION” (all CAPS) in the Vivid Seats App on your phone and get 10% off any Lakers home game ticket order for the remainder of the season.