After two straight losses to start the season, the Los Angeles Lakers finally got their first win on Sunday, holding on down the stretch to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 121-118. The night could have gone much differently, however, as LeBron James narrowly avoided a serious injury in the second quarter.
In the middle of the frame, Desmond Bane went to the rim and Dwight Howard came over to try and block the shot. He made contact with Bane, who lost his balance and fell to the ground, crashing into LeBron’s leg in the process. The Lakers star immediately crumpled to the ground, and a groan went out around Staples Center.
“The first thing I was thinking to myself was, ‘Not again,'” LeBron said. “Because obviously it was almost similar but not the same kind of play. Guy falls into my leg and there’s nothing you can do about it and I couldn’t get my leg out of there in time.”
LeBron was referencing the play last season where Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill dove for a loose ball and rolled up his leg. That play resulted in a high ankle sprain that kept LeBron out for 26 games at the end of the regular season, and left him less than 100 percent for the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns.
This time around, it thankfully wasn’t as bad and is being called a sprained right ankle. For one, LeBron was able to stay in and play the rest of the game, finishing with 40 minutes.
“Just wanted to take a moment on the floor, just hopefully it wasn’t getting worse,” James said. “Had an opportunity just to tie my shoe again and see if I’m able to go, I was able to continue to go.”
Though he admitted after the game that his leg was still “sore,” he is receiving “around the clock” treatment. Heading into the Lakers’ next game against the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night, he was listed as questionable per the NBA’s latest injury report. However, James was officially ruled out when Los Angeles updated their injury report prior to the opening tip.
While it is never good to see LeBron miss a game due to injury, the positive news for the Lakers is that this doesn’t seem like it will be any sort of serious, long-term problem.