UPDATE: LeBron James will not suit up for the Lakers on Sunday as he was ruled out fairly early in the day with a left calf contusion. It will be the first game this season that LeBron has missed.
Lakers say LeBron James is OUT vs. Blazers tonight with a calf contusion— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 12, 2023
After suffering the leg injury against the Suns on Friday, LeBron James was listed as questionable for the Lakers against the Blazers initially on the day. Anthony Davis — and Jaxson Hayes, for that matter — both are considered questionable after returning in Phoenix.
LeBron James (calf contusion) is listed as questionable for Lakers vs. Blazers on Sunday.— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) November 12, 2023
LeBron said his calf "never loosened up" after he aggravated it in the 1st quarter in Phoenix. He said it felt "pretty sore" after the game. (Of course, he also put up 32/11/6.) pic.twitter.com/YN95ah4ITB
LeBron banged legs with Kevin Durant during Friday’s game and was in immediate pain. While he soldiered on and put forth a brilliant effort, he noted postgame that his leg was very sore.
Clearly, that pain foreshadowed his fate on Sunday. Whether it was too painful or the Lakers were simply avoiding taking a risk, something they have done multiple times early this season, LeBron won’t be playing in Sunday’s contest.
Original story follows.
Only a couple weeks into the season, the Lakers are already dealing with multiple injuries to key players on the roster. On Friday's come-from-behind victory against the Phoenix Suns, there was good and bad news on the injury front.
LeBron James injured; Lakers; Suns; Injury pic.twitter.com/uZiuF7czl2— Oh no he didn't (@ohnohedidnt24) November 11, 2023
At the 4:22 mark of the first quarter, LeBron James was driving to the basket and was fouled by Kevin Durant. James appeared to be hobbling after the play, looking to have difficulty putting weight on his left leg. The injury looked particularly concerning during the game because there seemed no contact in that area to cause an injury. And given James' age, it could be a career-ending moment if it was serious.
Thankfully, James was able to brush it off and continue being his superstar self, ending the game with 32 points on 11-16 shooting and playing a team game-high 36 minutes. Postgame, James went into detail as to what occurred during that play to cause him discomfort.
"I was driving and awkwardly (hit) KD's knee and, at the force I was going, it went right into my shin which pretty much locked up right then and there and shot down to my foot." James said. "So, I just tried to keep my composure, make sure I was ok and try to keep it stretched out as much as possible, try to keep it as loose as possible so I can play the game and be effective. I'm pretty sore right now, obviously, because the adrenaline is calming down. I've iced it and all that stuff so now it's pretty sore."
Without James healthy and available this team's potential plummets. The Lakers have wanted to limit James' minutes partly to reduce the wear and tear on his 38-year-old body. So far, that hasn't been the case.
James is averaging 35 minutes a game compared to last season's 35.5. That doesn't seem like an emphasis on a minute reduction to me. So, while it appears James will be okay from last night's injury, it will be something to monitor in the coming games and a reminder of how fragile things are for James and the Lakers. If he goes down, so does Los Angeles' chances at glory this season.
Anthony Davis is the only player even remotely as important as James to this team. Dealing with his hip spasm, which forced him to miss most of the second half versus the Heat and the game against the Rockets, Davis returned for the Lakers' first NBA in-season tournament game and looked like himself again.
He ended the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds and tied with James for most minutes on the Lakers with 36. Despite the solid performance, Davis did feel like there was an adjustment period early on.
"It took some time to kind of get into the game just with the shots and stuff, just trying not to aggravate it," Davis said after the win. "But as the game got going, I just stopped thinking about it and just started playing. I felt it a couple times over the course of the game but for the most part, it's good."
While fans can exhale over injury scares and finally enjoy a road win, things aren't all sunny in Southern California. These are, without question, the two most important players on the Lakers roster and the fact they are already dealing with injuries and still having the highest minutes played is concerning. This roster was supposed to be catered around the two stars, allowing them both not to require Herculean efforts to rack up victories.
So far, they've had to do that in virtually every victory on this 4-5 start. Hopefully, as the roster gets closer to being fully healthy and players like Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves find their rhythm and place, the vision of what this roster was projected to be will be realized. For now, it's good that the Lakers won and both stars appear to be okay.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.