Sport

LeBron James feels ‘awful’ after ankle injury in Pelicans loss

LeBron James’ ankle injury in Sunday’s crushing 116-108 loss to the Pelicans couldn’t have come at a worse time.

With just eight games left in the regular season, the 31-43 Lakers sit tenth in the Western Conference with one of the toughest remaining game schedules in the league and a one-game lead over the Spurs to easily qualify for the game -in the tournament. The loss dropped the Lakers behind the Pelicans in the standings and gave New Orleans what could be the crucial tie-breaker.

James said his left ankle felt “horrible” after twisting it in the first half of Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.

“I mean I have no idea how I finished the game to be honest after watching this replay. It’s pretty uncomfortable,” James said after finishing with 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

James’ left ankle was wrapped after the game and he was limping. The Lakers’ top scorer is in doubt for Tuesday’s game in Dallas.

LeBron James drives to the basket against the Pelicans on March 27, 2022.
LeBron James drives to the basket against the Pelicans on March 27, 2022.
AP

“I hope not because I hate missing games. It’s not in my nature,” James said, adding that he had already started treating the ankle before leaving the arena on Sunday. He is treated “round the clock”.

“Right now it’s terrible. And unfortunately we’re about to board a flight. See what’s happening every day. But right now it hurts a lot.”

James landed awkwardly on his left ankle as he stepped on Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes’ sneaker. The second quarter was down 10:09 while the Lakers held a 36-29 lead. He stayed in the game but said he “lost any explosiveness” after the injury.

“I wanted an offensive rebound and Jaxson and I basically went in at the same time,” James said. “He got his foot on the ground before I could get my foot back on the hardwood. I stepped on his foot and twisted my ankle.”

James said he “probably wouldn’t have” finished the game if the Lakers hadn’t been on the line with a point in the play-in round at such a crucial stage.

“I mean, from the moment I twisted my ankle, I felt a sharp pain running up my leg. It was starting to get hot. And I’ve been there before with ankle sprains,” he said. “But I didn’t want to get out of the game because I got it [the importance]. I mean I just wanted to win the game. I understood how big the game was for us.”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel called it a “tough” situation.

“It was just such a season. He was just in an incredible groove back then and you have to give him credit for sticking with it. But you can see he was a bit limited the rest of the way. But he fought his way through.”

The Lakers need a healthy James to compete for a spot in the Play-In tournament, which begins April 12 and ends April 15.

Despite being “rather bruised” with the ankle injury, James said: “I still feel like if I’m grounded and able to move things then we still have a pretty good chance of making something out of this season. “

LeBron James at the end of the Lakers' loss to the Pelicans.
LeBron James at the end of the Lakers’ loss to the Pelicans.
USA TODAY sports

James’ injury adds to the Lakers’ season-long struggles. He returned to the lineup earlier this month after being on the sidelines throughout February with a nagging knee injury.

The Lakers were also without their star center in Antony Davis, who has been sidelined since Feb. 16 with a foot injury.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/28/lebron-james-feels-horrible-after-ankle-injury-in-pelicans-loss/ LeBron James feels ‘awful’ after ankle injury in Pelicans loss

JOE HERNANDEZ

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