Wednesday night’s game for the Los Angeles Lakers was disappointing as they lost a game they should have won to their hometown rivals on the NBA’s biggest regular-season stage. Unfortunately for them, they may have added injury to insult.
LeBron James, who recently missed a game with a muscle strain in his back and was nursing a nagging groin issue, aggravated the injury when he was kneed on a drive by Clippers’ guard Patrick Beverley. James went to the ground in pain and while he finished the game out, it was clear he was not as comfortable driving into contact for the rest of the night.
James admitted to reporters that the contact sent him back to the same state he was in a few days ago when news of the groin issue was reported. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Lakers officials approached James after the game about potentially sitting out a few games to let his groin fully recover.
James made some news recently by saying that he did not believe in load management – at least while the Lakers have not secured the top seed – and wants to play in every game as long as he is healthy. He had similar statements on Christmas after the game saying he’ll be in the game for Saturday’s matchup against the Blazers if he’s “feeling great.”
The Lakers have a back-to-back this weekend against the Trail Blazers and the Mavericks. At the very least, James should be sitting out one of those games. But more optimally, he should be taking some time off to get fully healthy. The Lakers lost LeBron to a (different) groin injury last year on Christmas and his extended absence was effectively the death knell on their playoff hopes and dreams.
This iteration of the team, despite four straight losses to playoff teams, has its eyes set on a championship. But it is also extremely dependent on LeBron and needs him to be as close to fully healthy as possible in the postseason in order to beat the Clippers and the Bucks.