James missed the Lakers’ matchup with the Jazz on Monday, which was the second half of a back-to-back. It was the first game he sat out this season but any injury for James causes a certain level of concern for the Lakers, especially considering his issues last year with an ankle ailment that saw him miss 26 contests.
“Rest is the only way to help it…which I don’t have,” James told reporters prior to Wednesday’s matchup against the Clippers. “I’ll be in the lineup tonight.”
The Lakers played without three starters against the Jazz, which resulted in a 139-116 blowout. Lonnie Walker IV, who missed that matchup, is dealing with a non-COVID-19 ailment and will not be available against the Clippers.
Walker has been a nice surprise for the Lakers, averaging a career-high 15.3 points per game — good for third on the Lakers behind James and Anthony Davis.
LeBron James Claps Back at Critics
James is averaging 24.3 points, 7.1 assists and 8.9 rebounds per game this season but the Lakers sit at a disappointing 2-8. Despite his four titles, four MVP awards and countless other accolades, James finds himself as a target for a lot of criticism. After all the time in the spotlight, “The King” doesn’t sweat it.
“C’mon man. I’m turning 38 in almost two months, basically two months,” James said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “And when you know who you are, to be honest, truly caring about what people say, that doesn’t matter.”
As for his minutes, head coach Darvin Ham made it a point prior to the season to keep a close eye on how many minutes both James and Davis are playing.
“I don’t need Bron or AD playing playoff minutes in October, November, December,” Ham said in September. “Once we establish our rotation, looking for different ways to minimize the load on their bodies, whenever possible. And again, being mindful of practice times, practice duration, game schedule, being strategic in that area as well. So we just feel good about where they are today. And to continue keep putting healthy days together as much as possible is at the top of the list, top priority, but we’ll manage them well to make sure that they’re getting stronger as the season gets longer and they’re hitting on all cylinders at the right time of the year.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, their early struggles and desire to get things on track have led to a larger workload for James and Davis.
Lakers Expect to ‘Turn the Corner’ Soon
As James points out, the Lakers don’t have the luxury of being able to rest their best players after their poor start through the first 10 games. However, Ham feels like they’re getting close to “turning the corner.”
“I would say this, man. And write it, quote it, however,” Ham said. “This may be happening now at the outset of what we’re trying to force to be a culture change in terms of getting us back to being highly competitive on a highly consistent basis, but it’s not going to always be like this.
“We’re going to turn the corner. I didn’t come here to lose. They didn’t bring me here to lose.”
The Lakers are slight 3-point underdogs to the Clippers for Wednesday’s matchup.