The Los Angeles Lakers suffered insult and injury on Sunday against the Pelicans, blowing a 23-point lead in the crucial loss and watching superstar LeBron James suffer a significant injury to his ankle.
James hobbled to the podium after the 116-108 loss to New Orleans, which dropped the Lakers to the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference.
“I was going in for an offensive rebound and me and Jaxson basically stepped at the same time,” said James, who dealt with a serious ankle injury last season. “He got his foot on the ground before I could get my foot back on the hardwood. I stepped on his foot and rolled my ankle.”
The Lakers are battling with the Pelicans in the standings and it was clear that James saw the matchup as a must-win. Despite being banged up, he played 42 minutes, notching a game-high 39 points. He said after the game that if the game didn’t have some significance behind it he likely would not have returned.
“I mean, I have no idea how I finished the game, to be honest, after watching that replay,” James said. “It was pretty nasty.
“I mean, from the time I turned my ankle I felt a sharp pain run up my leg. It started getting hot. And I’ve been there before with ankle sprains before,” he added. “But I didn’t want to come out of the game because I understood [the importance]. I mean, I just wanted to win the game. I understood how big of a game it was for us.”
LeBron James Unsure if He’ll Miss Time
The Lakers have eight regular-season games remaining and every one of those is important if LA wants to make the postseason. The Lakers next game is on Tuesday against the Mavericks but James is not sure if he’ll miss time.
“I hope not,” James said. “S—. I hope not, because I hate missing games. That’s not in my nature.”
The injury bug has not been kind to the Lakers this season. James has missed time previously and Anthony Davis still remains out.
“It’s tough. It’s just been that kind of season,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “He was just in an incredible groove right around then, and credit him for toughing it out. But you can see he was limited on it somewhat the rest of the way. But he battled through it.”
Lakers Postseason Hopes Now at Risk
If James misses time, it would be a small miracle if the Lakers were able to hold off the Spurs, who are just one game behind. The Lakers some of the top teams in the Western Conference to wrap up their season, including Golden State, Utah, Phoenix and Denver.
There’s been talk about the Lakers making some noise in the postseason but now the question is if they’ll even get there.
“Well, if I’m healthy, for sure. Obviously I’m pretty banged up with that ankle,” James said. “But I still feel like if I’m on the floor and I can make things happen then we still got a pretty good chance to make something out of this season.”
The 37-year-old James currently leads the league with 30.0 points per game.