The Lakers had the largest comeback of the NBA season in their road win on Sunday afternoon against the Mavericks after being down 27 points in the first half, but it came at a cost to their star LeBron James. He went down late in the third quarter with a injury to his right foot. Injuries to his left foot and ankle kept him out three games leading up to the All-Star break, but he has still averaged 36.1 minutes per game while playing in 47 games.
James finished the game with 26 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in 37 minutes. CBS reported that the Lakers will continue to monitor the injury as the team climbed up one spot to 12th in the Western Conference standings after their win. They are now 29-32 with 21 games left in the regular season. They are also currently 3.5 games back of the fifth spot and one game back of the final play-in spot.
James drove the ball late in the third quarter on Mavericks big man Dwight Powell and immediately reached for his foot after being fouled.
James went down and was stretched out on the floor as he was captured on video saying, “I heard it pop.” He did not go to the locker room. Rather, he finished the game but received medical attention on the Lakers bench.
The Lakers have won three consecutive games are still fighting to remain in the playoff picture. Newly acquired D’Angelo Russell suffered an ankle injury against the Warriors last Thursday and didn’t play on Sunday against the Mavericks.
Anthony Davis just returned to the lineup in late January after being out for a month with a foot injury. They have struggled to keep their stars on the floor this season. James and Davis has only played in 28 games together this season.
The new-look Lakers have everyone projecting them to reach the playoffs after trading for younger pieces who defend and shoot better. Of course, their playoff hopes all depend on their health.
“Don’t tell me that a healthy Lakers squad can’t go 15-6 over the next 21 games, which is what people surmise will enable them to get the sixth seed. You got Utah in there, they’re going to fade, in my opinion, because they are building for the future,” said Stephen A. Smith on ESPN “Get Up” Monday.
He continued, “You’ve got the Dallas Mavericks in there, they’re questionable. They’re trying to figure out things offensively and defensively. They’re incredibly challenging. You’ve got the Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves. You’ve seen what’s been happening to them.”
The Lakers and James downplayed the injury to keep Lakers fans at ease and probably because they don’t know how serious the injury is.
“It’s been better,” James said about his foot during his postgame press conference. “That’s for sure. But I definitely wasn’t going to go to the locker room and not finish the game out tonight. Just understood the importance of the game, and then with the momentum that we had, I felt like we could still win after being down.”
James was seen with a noticeable limp that was captured on video as he was walking through the Mavericks tunnel after the game.
“He’s good,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. “Our medical people are looking at him now. He’ll be reevaluated again in the morning. So once we get some type of official word tomorrow, we’ll go from there. But as of right now, he’s good.”
Ham even stated that he didn’t hear James say that the comment about him hearing a “pop.” The Lakers next game will be Feb. 28 against their good pals from Memphis.