Lakers Play-In Hopes Hang In Balance Of LeBron James’ Ankle Injury

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

With eight games remaining on their schedule, the Los Angeles Lakers, once the pick of many to reach the NBA Finals this season, are hanging onto the final play-in spot in the Western Conference by one game. 

Currently 31-43 on the season, the Lakers have now fallen a game-and-a-half behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the 9-seed in the West after losing 116-108 to them on Sunday and now, the San Antonio Spurs are just one game back from the Lakers for the 10-seed with the Spurs currently owning the tiebreaker over Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ loss on Sunday to the Pelicans was not only significant standings-wise in the Western Conference but also in regards to LeBron James, who turned his left ankle in the first-half of this game. 

Initially, James was on the ground holding his left ankle and in some pain until he tightened the laces on his shoe and hobbled to the Lakers’ bench during a timeout. While he did stay in the game and finish with 39 points and 9 rebounds in 42 minutes of action, LeBron James was very sore after the game and said that he felt “horrible” in regards to his ankle injury. 

LATEST NBA NEWS: “Feels Horrible”: LeBron James’ Ankle Becoming Major Problem

“I mean, I have no idea how I finished the game, to be honest, after watching that replay,” James told reporters after the game. “It’s pretty nasty.”

Following the loss, LeBron James was seen with his left ankle heavily wrapped and it was very apparent that he was walking with a limp. 

“It’s tough. It’s just been that kind of season,” Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel said following the game. “He was just in an incredible groove right around then, and credit him for toughing it out. But you can see he was limited on it somewhat the rest of the way. But he battled through it.”

Los Angeles never imagined that they would be in a position they currently face with eight games remaining on their schedule, but now, all the preseason hype for this team is out the window and they really need to turn their focus to winning these close games down the stretch if they are to extend their season. 

LATEST NBA NEWS: “Feels Horrible”: LeBron James’ Ankle Becoming Major Problem

Six of the Los Angeles Lakers’ final eight games this season are against teams currently with a winning record and they also have another critical matchup in Los Angeles on April 1 against the Pelicans. Five of their final eight games are on the road, all against teams currently seeded sixth or higher in the Western Conference. 

Averaging 34.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, and shooting 53.6% from the floor this month, LeBron James has accounted for close to 30% of the Lakers’ total scoring output in the month of March and he is responsible for their little success on the floor. 

Without LeBron James this season, the Lakers are just 6-13 and they have almost no scoring production without him on the floor, especially with Anthony Davis still nursing a right ankle/foot sprain. 

All season long, LeBron James has been dealing with multiple injuries and as of late, has seemed to be listed on the injury report leading up to games with knee soreness. This ankle injury is yet another injury to be added to the injury report for James and while he is sore and banged up, the 18-time All-Star is still hopeful he can help the Lakers find success this season, saying, “I still feel like if I’m on the floor and I can make things happen then we still got a pretty good chance to make something out of this season.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: “Feels Horrible”: LeBron James’ Ankle Becoming Major Problem

With the Los Angeles Lakers having one of the toughest schedules remaining this season, they are going to need LeBron James healthy and on the floor if they are to have any shot of earning a play-in tournament spot and claim the 8-seed to draw a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Playoffs. 

Should LeBron James be forced to miss a game or two, the Lakers’ season will hang in the balance of what happens with the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs, as the opportunity to jump the Lakers in the standings will become extremely clear for both of them. 

Ankle injuries are difficult to recover from, especially in a tight window like LeBron James and the Lakers are facing right now. 

LATEST NBA NEWS: “Feels Horrible”: LeBron James’ Ankle Becoming Major Problem

Los Angeles’ next game is on Tuesday night in Dallas against the Mavericks, a game that could very much result in the Lakers falling to the 11-seed in the Western Conference if LeBron James is unable to play.

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