The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 1 despite being without LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell.
Los Angeles won by a final score of 123-117 to improve to 30-33 on the season and James issued a three-word tweet after his team’s impressive win.
The Lakers were led in scoring by Dennis Schroder, who finished with 26 points. The former Thunder guard, who sprained his left ankle in the first quarter, scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half. Troy Brown Jr. scored a season-high 19 points and Austin Reaves put up 19 points as well while shooing a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
Los Angeles had six players score in double-figures. The purple and gold are in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. The top six seeds in the conference automatically qualify for the postseason, while teams 7-10 make the play-in tournament. The Lakers are one game back of the 10th spot and 2.5 games back of the sixth spot.
The Lakers Will Be Without LeBron James for Several Weeks
James is expected to miss several weeks after injuring his right foot on February 26 in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, according to multiple reports. The Lakers “are bracing for his absence to be multiple weeks,” according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
James, 38, is averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 2022-23 while shooting 50.1% from the field, 30.8% from beyond the arc and 75.9% from the free-throw line. The Lakers improved to 6-10 without James this season after defeating the Thunder.
Davis, who sat out the Thunder game due to a right foot injury, told reporters after the Lakers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 28 that he doesn’t want James to rush back from his injury.
“What I don’t want is him to rush back really early. …I want him to get completely right and healthy before he steps on the floor,” Davis said. “Like I said, it’s on us, other guys in this locker room, to step up and continue to win basketball games.”
LeBron James Won’t Need Surgery
Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported on March 2 that James won’t require surgery on his right foot. The Akron Hammer is currently in a walking boot.
“So what I can say on LeBron is that sources did inform me that he will not require surgery,” Haynes said on Episode 12 of his “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast with Marc Stein. “That’s good news for the Lakers. So right now, it’s all about time and the rehabbing process.”
Jovan Buha of The Athletic believes Davis and Russell will be under significant pressure to play well while James is out. Davis is averaging 25.8 points and 12.6 rebounds this season, while Russell is putting up 17.6 points and 6.1 assists per game with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lakers.
“There will inevitably be considerably more pressure on Davis to shoulder the offensive burden in James’ absence. He’ll be the clear-cut No. 1 option offensively and have a chance to return to his MVP-caliber form from earlier in the season. The Lakers have gone away from him far too often offensively recently. That should change starting in Memphis. However, Los Angeles will have to find the requisite balance to ensure it doesn’t overwork Davis, considering his lengthy injury history,” Buha wrote on February 28. “D’Angelo Russell, an All-Star with Brooklyn in 2018-19, averaged 20-plus points per game over various spans in Brooklyn, Golden State and Minnesota. He’s also under pressure as he’s an impending free agent. If he helps carry the offense and plays like a fringe All-Star, he’ll be much better suited to justify the rumored four-year, $100-plus million contract he’s looking for this summer.”