UPDATE: A few hours before gametime, LeBron James announced that he would not return when the Lakers take on the Rockets. Shortly afterwards, it was reported that Anthony Davis would join him on the bench.
Original story follows.
LeBron James was originally heavily rumored to return when the Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Tuesday, but word leaked out a few hours before the game that he would instead target their final home game of the regular season for his re-debut: Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, when Los Angeles will unveil its 2020 championship banner in front of fans at Staples Center.
I would say that the Rockets offer James a good to re-adjust to NBA basketball, but they’re not really an NBA team, so that’s not entirely accurate. Houston has a problem, and it’s that they suck. The Rockets have lost 16 of their last 18 games heading into their final game of the season in Los Angeles, which actually qualifies as improvement for a team that at one point lost 20 games in a row this season, have posted the fourth-worst offensive and defensive efficiency marks in the NBA, and have the worst worst record in the entire league (16-53).
As the Lakers saw when they lost to the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors in James’ first two games back before returning to the sidelines with continuing ankle soreness, nothing is guaranteed when a team is reintroducing such a big piece back into their lineup. Still, the Rockets are so terrible that any growing pains likely shouldn’t matter, even if the Lakers will be on the second night of a back-to-back.
In short, the Rockets offer the Lakers an opportunity to help re-acclimate their star and end their home slate on a high note. We’ll see if they seize the opportunity to do both when these two teams tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT at Staples Center on Wednesday.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers have a lengthy injury report for this one. Jared Dudley (right MCL tear) and Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) are out, in addition to the aforementioned absences from James and Davis, who were originally listed as questionable.
- Alex Caruso (right foot soreness) is also questionable. He sat out most of Tuesday’s game with the same issue.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right ankle sprain), Marc Gasol (volar plate fracture, left pinkie finger), Talen Horton-Tucker (right calf strain) and Kyle Kuzma (lower back tightness) are probable
- In better news, with their win against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, the Lakers still in theory have a chance to catch the Portland Trail Blazers or Dallas Mavericks.
DALLAS VS. LAL scenarios (same as POR, with both holding the tiebreaker):— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 12, 2021
- If DAL goes 3-0 or 2-1, they finish ahead of LAL.
- If DAL goes 1-2, LAL have to go 3-0.
- If DAL goes 0-3, LAL could go 2-1.
We'll see if they can make it happen.