LeBron James was finally back on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday and helped his squad pull off a 122-115 victory against the Indiana Pacers.
James finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists in the victory and announced his return to the court with a highlight-reel first-half dunk.
The dunk was newsworthy for a variety of reasons, most notably because it showed that James’ ankle that’s kept him out for all but two games since March 20 is good to go.
It especially nice to see after James set off some alarm bells when he said he’ll “never be 100%.”
“It’s been urgency for me to get back ever since I got injured. So that’s just who I am,” James told reporters earlier this month. “You guys could have seen the logging of the minutes and hours per day that I was doing as far as rehab and treatment, it was a lot more than I slept. So over the last six weeks, that’s all I’ve been doing, is having an urgency to get back and play. … I knew I wasn’t going to get back to 100%. It’s impossible. I don’t think I will ever get back to 100% in my career.”
That quote from James quickly blew up, which he addressed following the victory on Saturday.
“Whatever I say gets blown out context,” James said. “What I was saying is that as soon as I step foot on the NBA floor for the first time, I went to 99.9%. You don’t ever feel as great as you felt the first time you stepped out there. So I was saying I would never be able to get to 100%. That time has passed me. But for me playing at a high level, I can always do that and be at 99.”
Kendrick Perkins on Lakers: Best Duo in the Game is Back
Former NBA champion turned ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins liked what he saw from James and a healthy Lakers squad — which is bad news for the rest of the Western Conference.
“Old King James and AD looked damn healthy to me!!! Looks like it’s about to trouble in the Western Conference,” Perkins wrote. “The BEST Duo in the game is Back got Damn it. Let the games begin! Carry on…”
Davis missed the Lakers last game due to a left thigh injury but look spry against the Pacers. He hit 9 of 18 shots for a team-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I felt great the entire time,” Davis said. “It’s nice to get the whole team back out there.”
LeBron James on Ankle: ‘I Felt Good’
While the Lakers defense didn’t look extra sharp against a depleted Pacers squad, the offense clicked with James — last year’s assist leader — back in the lineup. James also revved up his offense late, scoring seven straight points to help seal the win.
“It felt a lot better than the last time I came back,” James said of his ankle. “I felt good coming into the game. I think each game I’ll get better and better. It will take a few games to get it all back. It’s up to coach and training staff if I play (Sunday).”
The Lakers have one game left against the Pelicans on Sunday. The defending champs will avoid the play-in tournament with a win and a Portland loss.
“Let the chips fall where they may,” James said. “We’re ready to go.”