As expected, the Los Angeles Lakers have tumbled through the first few games of the 2021-22 season. The Lakers finally got into the win column on Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, but it came with a near injury scare involving LeBron James. More importantly, it further underlined the importance of the busy offseason the team experienced to build the appropriate roster around James.
Lakers grab their first win of the 2021-22 season
After dropping their first two games, the Lakers finally got on the right track by edging out the upstart Memphis Grizzlies.
Los Angeles received some balanced offensive play, with six players scoring in double figures. It helped combat Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant’s impressive outing with a game-high 40 points and 10 assists. Carmelo Anthony put forth a strong performance off the bench with a team-high 28 points behind 6-of-8 shooting beyond the arc.
Anthony Davis strung together a solid all-around game with 22 points, eight rebounds, and a game-high four blocks. Russell Westbrook struggled to find his footing committing nine turnovers but notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 assists.
The Lakers battled a strong second-half push from the Grizzlies behind offense by shooting 53.6% from the floor and 53.3% from 3-point range. It wasn’t the most encouraging performance, but it proved to be enough to get in the win column.
However, the contest nearly turned sideways after the four-time league MVP suffered an injury scare.
LeBron James nearly experienced injury deja vu, proving the importance of the Lakers’ busy offseason: ‘The first thing I was thinking to myself was, “Not again”‘
Although Los Angeles finally pushed itself in the right direction, it nearly became a disastrous night.
LeBron James suffered an ankle injury after Grizzlies forward Desmond Bane collided with his right leg in the first half. James remained on the floor for several minutes, creating much concern from the Staples Center crowd.
After being checked by the medical staff, James returned to his feet, tied his shoelaces tighter, and continued to play. He finished with 22 points, six assists, and six rebounds. The injury scare was a moment of deja vu for James as it immediately took him back to the high right ankle sprain he suffered last year against the Atlanta Hawks that forced him to miss six weeks.
“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 added that his leg felt “sore” after the game, while he expects to receive plenty of treatment before Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers will monitor the situation closely, potentially keeping him out of the contest due to precautionary reasons.
Nonetheless, the Lakers avoid a massive setback that places incredible importance on the play of the rest of the roster.
LeBron James’ injury scare serves as a wake-up call for Lakers roster
Although James avoided a massive setback, the situation serves as a shining example of the importance of the roster performance around him.
The 36-year-old is still proving to be an ageless wonder, but he’s in his 19th season and has plenty on his plate to lead the franchise toward NBA title contention. However, an injury could be quite problematic for Los Angeles if their supporting cast doesn’t provide adequate production.
The front office venture through a busy offseason to bring in proven veterans to offload the offensive workload from James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers need players such as Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, and Kent Bazemore to fill those offensive gaps. It’s especially the case due to injuries to Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn, each expected to miss the next few weeks.
If Los Angeles hopes to vie for the 2022 NBA title, it will need the rest of the roster to provide collective consistent and reliable production on a nightly basis.