For the second game in a row, it was widely reported that Lakers star LeBron James was set to make his return against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, but for the second game in a row, James will contradict those reports and opt not to suit up as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain that will have now cost him 25 of the last 27 games.
James had previously been upgraded to questionable to play, but he took to Twitter to let Lakers fans know that he still needed to miss one more game:
Getting close but I won’t be in the lineup tonight but more importantly I will be there to put that CHAMPIONSHIP banner in the rafters at Staples Center in front of our fans!! #No17— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 12, 2021
Anthony Davis will also sit out the second night of a back-to-back after experiencing groin tightness against the Knicks. Given that he’s played nearly 40 minutes in three straight games, this is not terribly surprising:
Anthony Davis will also not play tonight against the Rockets after experiencing tightness in his groin last night, sources tell ESPN— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 12, 2021
The Lakers only have two games left on the schedule after this one: Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, and Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports made it sound like James is targeting the former for his return, which would give him just two games to get his legs under him again before postseason play:
The return of LeBron James would fall on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 12, 2021
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James scheduled to make his return Saturday versus the Indiana Pacers. https://t.co/qgaeUgSB31— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 12, 2021
But at this point, James has made reports about his return look greatly exaggerated for two games in a row, so who knows what to think about when he’ll actually be back.
It’s not time to panic about this injury yet — we have no information on the severity right now, and so it’s probably best not to speculate — but what we do know is that this team needs as much time as possible to gel. Obviously James’ health for the playoffs is the most important thing here, but at this point, every game he misses offers slightly more reason for concern over how well he and his teammates can hit the ground running when the playoffs begin, if nothing else.
With James out again, expect Wesley Matthews to get another start for the Lakers, and Kyle Kuzma to continue to play big minutes. The Lakers and Rockets tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday.