The NBA has taken a dramatic turn with all-time leading scorer LeBron James likely to miss several weeks of action after suffering a foot injury during the Los Angeles Lakers' comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks earlier this week. Any potential absence for James could have a major impact on the playoff race, with the Lakers stranded at 12th in the Western Conference standings.
James took to Instagram on Tuesday, posting an image of his right foot wrapped in compression bandages, accompanied by a caption declaring the situation 'sucks'. It's a brutally timed blow for the Lakers, who had hoped to mount a late season charge to the NBA playoffs after making several trades prior to the deadline earlier in February.
The 38-year-old was overheard on a courtside microphone during the Mavericks game that he heard something 'pop' in his right foot - however he managed to play out the game, a crucial win for the Lakers as they look to claw their way back into playoff contention. "I definitely wasn’t going to go to the locker room and not finish the game out tonight,” James said after the game.
While the 111-108 win over Dallas was equally thrilling and crucial, the re-tooled Lakers will likely be absent their biggest star for at least the next few weeks. Having traded mercurial point guard Russell Westbrook in exchange for shooting guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt, as well as acquiring point guard D'Angelo Russell, NBA observers felt the Lakers roster more adequately catered to the team's strengths.
The Lakers are one game behind the 10th placed New Orleans Pelicans, the final qualifying spot for the play-in tournament, and two and a half games back from Dallas, in the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot. The closely contested Western Conference standings may yet work in the Lakers' favour, but James has already hinted at his frustration staring down a second straight year of missing the playoffs.
“I want to make a push to make the playoffs,” James said during the recent All-Star weekend. “I don’t want to see myself not being part of the post-season for two years straight. It’s just not part of my DNA.
“We’re sitting up here talking about the record and things of that nature, and that’s all cool, but I’m more passionate about trying to make the post-season and give ourselves a chance to compete for another (title).”
Sources: There's fear Lakers star LeBron James is likely to miss an extended period of time with his right foot injury. James suffered the injury in Sunday's win over Dallas, played through it, and belief is he will be sidelined an indefinite amount.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2023
This LeBron James injury hurts bro. The last three seasons, he’s had leg/ankle issues to finish the season.
— 🎗NBA•Fan🎗 (@Prime_LeBron23) February 28, 2023
One day LeBron James will no longer be able to step on a court and people will realize how much they took him for granted. I am just glad I won't be one of those guys.
— First Responder Drew (@haaaaandrew) February 28, 2023
Moving out of the being bummed phase, this could be an opportunity for the new guys on the Lakers to get more comfortable and with how AD is looking again, they should be able to maintain a play-in pace until LeBron is ready to come back. The margins are super slim, but doable
— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) February 28, 2023
This LeBron injury ruined my day.
— RUI FANATIC (@therealselena23) February 28, 2023
NBA stars going down with LaMelo Ball joining LeBron James on injury list
Injury woes haven't been limited to the Lakers this week, with the Charlotte Hornets all but set to shut point guard LaMelo Ball down for the rest of the season after fracturing his ankle on Tuesday. It's a new low in a dismal season for the Hornets, who boast the NBA's fourth-worst record.
Ball sustained the injury in the third quarter. He fell to the court after planting his right leg on a crossover dribble, a move which didn't involve contact with another player.
The 21-year-old left for the locker room after the injury, and X-rays revealed the fracture that the Hornets announced shortly after the 117-106 win over the Pistons. They didn't offer an initial prognosis or timetable for his recovery.
The injury marks a likely end to an injury-plagued season for the third-year point guard. Ball missed the first 13 games of the season with a Grade 2 sprain of his left ankle. He reinjured the ankle three games into his return and was sidelined for another 11 games.
An All-Star in his second NBA season, Ball has shown progress on the court when he's been able to play this season. In 35 games before Monday, he averaged a career-high 23.4 points and 8.5 assists alongside 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 36.7% from 3-point distance.
The Hornets have regressed this season after a 43-39 campaign in 2021-22 thanks in part to Ball's injuries and the continued absence Miles Bridges after a felony domestic violence charge. They improved to 20-43 with Monday's win, good for 14th place out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the 15-47 Pistons.
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