The Los Angeles Lakers finally got into the win column after edging out the Memphis Grizzlies. It wasn’t a clean night as LeBron James narrowly avoided a severe ankle injury that could have sidelined him for an extended stretch. As the Lakers move forward, the team would be wise to learn from their past mistakes to avoid a crushing outcome involving James.
LeBron James suffers injury scare against the Grizzlies
The Lakers earned their first win on Sunday night after outlasting the upstart Grizzlies.
However, the game featured a frightening moment for Los Angeles as James nearly suffered a significant ankle injury. In the second quarter, Grizzlies forward Desmond Bane tumbled into the four-time league MVP’s right ankle after Dwight Howard attempted to block his layup.
James didn’t see Bane falling toward his leg leading him to buckle down to the floor in pain. The Staples Center crowd went into an immediate panic as it’s the same ankle that forced the 36-year-old to miss six weeks last season.
After the game, James voiced that his leg was sore and that the situation gave him deja vu to the high right ankle sprain he suffered last March against the Atlanta Hawks.
“The first thing I was thinking to myself was, ‘Not again,'” James said via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “Because obviously, it was almost similar but not the same kind of play. Guy falls into my leg and there’s nothing you can do about it and I couldn’t get my leg out of there in time.”
James remained in the contest, finishing with 19 points, six assists, and six rebounds in a game-high 40 minutes played. As the Lakers prepare to play the Spurs on Tuesday, the team should use the situation to avoid an NBA title-crushing fate with the star forward.
Lakers should learn from their past mistakes to avoid the devastating fate with LeBron James that doomed their NBA title hopes last season
James has maintained an optimistic mindset concerning his ankle, aiming to play on Tuesday night against the Spurs.
The 17-time All-Star voiced that he will receive “around the clock” treatment to give himself the best chance to play. However, the Lakers have already taken the precautionary approach as he’s been downgraded to questionable status.
James can still take the floor against the Spurs despite that designation, but it places it toward him missing the contest. Although he avoided serious injury, it’s the same ankle he hurt last year that kept him sidelined for 26 games.
The Lakers want to avoid that same fate as any extended absence would be a devastating blow. Los Angeles is working through figuring out their roster chemistry. Meanwhile, the team is already dealing with injuries as Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn will miss the next few weeks.
The Lakers would be foolish to play James to get more games with their Big 3 together, and he was to suffer a setback. The bottom line is that Los Angeles must remain focused on the grander picture.
Russell Westbrook holds opportunity to shine ahead
Regardless of James plays or not against the Spurs, it presents an opportunity for the rest of the roster to step into more prominent roles.
Russell Westbrook is atop the list as he’s struggled to find his footing as the third option alongside the four-time league MVP and Anthony Davis. Westbrook will undertake a more significant role than he would have if James were healthy, but it gives him the chance to attain offensive fluidity.
His play has improved with each game, despite averaging 5.7 turnovers per contest. It’s a matter of Westbrook becoming comfortable as the Lakers need him to provide crucial contributions. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony can continue to shine as a scoring spark, averaging 17.7 points on 51.4% shooting from the floor and 66.7% from 3-point range.
It’s certainly not the situation the Lakers want to be in, but there is a silver lining.