Late in the fourth quarter, James went up for a rebound but came down awkwardly, falling to the court. He sat on the defensive end as the Lakers played 4-on-5, which finished with Austin Reaves banking in a clutch 3-pointer. James eventually got back up and finished the game but the worries remained about his ankle.
The 38-year-old superstar shook those off after the 108-103 loss, which put the Lakers behind 0-2 in the series.
“I’ll be fine,” James told reporters in his postgame press conference.
James also spoke to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin about his banged-up ankle but stressed that he wouldn’t be missing the crucial Game 3 at home in Los Angeles.
“They’re still there,” James said of his ankles. “A little ankle isn’t going to stop me”
James was already playing through injury. He missed 13 straight games with a foot injury but decided to gut it out for a playoff run. James said he has a torn tendon in his right foot and that multiple doctors recommended season-ending surgery. He hasn’t ruled out having surgery in the offseason.
“I don’t know. Right now, I don’t need it, so we’ll see what happens,” James said in March. “I’ll probably get another MRI at the end of the season and go from there. But if I end up having to get surgery after the season, you guys won’t know. I don’t talk to you guys in the offseason, and by the time next season starts, I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready to go.”
Nuggets Sound Off on ‘Narrative’ After Beating Lakers
The Nuggets won Game 1, although the conversation after the game was about the Lakers making adjustments and nearly pulling off a stunning comeback.
After going up 2-0, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone had a message on the “narrative” surrounding the series.
“You win Game 1 of the playoffs, and all everybody talked about was the Lakers. Let’s be honest, that was a national narrative: The Lakers were fine. They’re down 1-0 but they figured something out,” Malone said. “No one talked about how Nikola had a historic performance. He’s got 13 triple-doubles now. Third all-time. What he’s doing is just incredible, but the narrative wasn’t about the Nuggets. The narrative wasn’t about Nikola. The narrative is about the Lakers and their adjustments. So you put that in your pipe, you smoke it, you come back and you know what, we’re going to go up 2-0.”
Denver star Nikola Jokic isn’t too concerned about the talk. The fact is that his Nuggets are just six wins away from their first championship.
“To be honest, I like it. We don’t care. Whatever,” Jokic said. “If you remember even in the bubble when we beat Utah, they were talking about how they blew the lead. When we beat the Clippers it was about them blowing the lead.”
Jamal Murray Explodes Late to Sink Lakers
After a miserable three quarters, Jamal Murray came alive in the fourth to help lead the Nuggets to victory. Murray scored 23 fourth-quarter points after scoring just 14 through the first 36 minutes.
“Even when we win, they talk about the other team,” Murray said after the game. “It just fuels us a little more, and it’ll be sweeter when we win the chip”
The Lakers stars did not rise to the occasion, especially in the fourth quarter. Anthony Davis finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds but was just 4-of-15 from the field.
James nearly notched a triple-double with 22 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists. But the four-time MVP was 9-of-19 from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also had some critical mistakes as the Lakers tried to claw back late.