For the fifth consecutive game, the Lakers will be without LeBron James on Tuesday as they travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns. James remains out with an adductor strain that was suffered just under two weeks ago against the Clippers.
LeBron James is out tonight against Phoenix— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) November 22, 2022
Shortly afterwards, the Lakers also announced that Juan Toscano-Anderson (mid back soreness) was also downgraded to out for the third game in a row, leaving the team extremely thin on the wing once again.
During the Lakers’ extended break in the schedule last week, LeBron was able to get back onto the court to practice, but never took part in anything other than the non-contact portions of said practices. While it may have felt like a step forward in his recovery — and it still may have been — it wasn’t quite as big of a step as fans may have thought.
The injury has come in a far more forgiving section of the Lakers schedule with games against Brooklyn, Detroit and San Antonio offering the team a chance to survive in his absence. While Phoenix will present a much tougher task on Tuesday, a back-to-back against the Spurs this weekend is another favorable stretch.
Still, though, with the number of muscle injuries and extended absences from LeBron in recent seasons, it’s a growing area of concern for him and the Lakers. This is not the sixth instance since the 2020-21 season of LeBron having at least a five-game absence due to injury and nearly each time, it’s been a different injury.
After Tuesday’s game and the Friday-Saturday back-to-back for the Lakers, they will return to Los Angeles for a pair of games on Monday and Wednesday before an extended six-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes. Ultimately, there has been little indication of when LeBron would return, so it remains a bit of a guessing game looking forward.