Lakers star LeBron James made his return from a proper foot damage on Sunday in opposition to the Bulls. The Lakers introduced lower than an hour earlier than tipoff that James can be obtainable after lacking the previous 13 video games. James examined his foot in pregame warmups and was deemed good to go for the Sunday matinee in Los Angeles.
However, James was not a part of the Lakers beginning lineup. Instead, James got here off the bench for simply the second time in his NBA profession (1,680 video games counting the playoffs) and the primary time since 2007.
The damage itself got here in the course of a Feb. 26 conflict with the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers trailed by as many as 27 factors within the sport, however James performed by way of the damage to assist the Lakers full the comeback. He completed that contest with 26 factors, eight rebounds and three assists, however he has been sidelined ever since.
The Lakers thrived in his absence. They went 8-5 since James went down, and after spending many of the season within the No. 13 slot within the Western Conference standings, they’ve now risen to No. 8. Friday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder bought the Lakers to .500 for the primary time this season. They entered Sunday at 37-37 and well-positioned to succeed in the postseason both by way of the play-in spherical or by stepping into the highest six and making the playoffs outright.
Of course, getting there’s one factor. Winning there’s one other. A hobbled James would have made an actual postseason run nearly inconceivable. Anthony Davis has saved the group afloat with out James. Austin Reaves has emerged as a key starter and ball-handler with James out, however finally, this group’s postseason goals depend on having two superstars. James is certainly one of them, and the roster round him appears to be like considerably stronger because the Lakers traded Russell Westbrook for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt on the deadline.
Including Sunday, the Lakers have eight video games left on their schedule. There continues to be time for LeBron to shortly ramp up for a postseason run. In 2021, James returned from an damage with solely two video games left within the common season and was by no means fairly himself in a first-round loss to Phoenix. With extra time left to work with, although, the Lakers have by no means appeared like extra of a postseason risk than they do at present.
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