LeBron: Lingering ankle issue led to early exit

LeBron: Lingering ankle issue led to early exit
  • Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff WriterMar 7, 2024, 03:16 AM ET


    • Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
    • Covered the Lakers and NBA for from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for and the NBA for from 2005-09.

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James limped off the court and into the locker room in the waning minutes of the Los Angeles Lakers130-120 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

“I’ll be all right,” James said after getting his left ankle examined, his 31 points and 13 assists in 36 minutes having gone to waste in the defeat. “It’s just my ankle. It’s just what I’ve been dealing with before the [All-Star] break, after the break. I’m just managing it the best way I can.”

James said there was no specific play that caused him discomfort in the Kings game.

“I played the whole third, sat a little bit to start the fourth, and when I got back in, it kind of just — whatever,” James said. “It’s just something I’ve been dealing with.”

A source familiar with the injury told ESPN the pain is simply being caused by “wear and tear” for the 39-year-old James, who is in his 21st season.

“Some games are better than others,” James said. “I didn’t feel it at all against OKC [on Monday]. And I didn’t feel it at all until the fourth quarter tonight. So, each game, each day is different.”

James came into the night listed as questionable because of the left ankle injury. He did not clarify whether he will be able to play Friday when L.A. hosts the Milwaukee Bucks.

Anthony Davis said the Lakers have enough to get back on track if James must miss time with the injury. But he had a far less sunny outlook about what happened against the Kings.

L.A. raced out to a 37-18 lead with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter. Not long after, Davis picked up his second foul and was subbed out, and Sacramento closed the quarter on a 10-0 run.

Malik Monk came in, made a big impact; Davion Mitchell made a big impact,” James said. “And they changed the game. It was a complete 180. That was the game right there from one quarter to the next.”

The Lakers came into the night 1½ games behind the Kings for the No. 7 spot in the West, with another game looming in Sacramento next week.

The Kings’ win, their third in three tries against the Lakers, means Sacramento will win the season series with L.A. no matter what happens next week — something that could haunt the Lakers in a tiebreak scenario when it comes to postseason seeding.

The loss, the second in the past three games for the Lakers, dropped them to No. 10 in the West.

“It sucks,” said Davis, who totaled just 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting and 11 rebounds. “Especially in a must-win game that we needed.”

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 44 points on 19-for-32 shooting; Domantas Sabonis had 16 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists; and Monk and Mitchell combined for 38 points on 14-for-23 shooting off the bench.

“Some of the things we were in defensively allowed them — allowed De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk — to get whatever they want, live in the paint,” Davis said. “And if I go help, then Sabonis is wide open. So, they did a good job manipulating what we were doing.”


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