NBA: Lakers, likely without LeBron, visit Blazers
LeBron James is nearly certain to miss his third consecutive contest when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
James is dealing with a painful left foot injury and hasn’t played since surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history on Tuesday.
James underwent tests that didn’t detect a serious injury and the club is hoping he will be able to play in Wednesday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham said after Saturday’s 109-103 road win over the Golden State Warriors that James needs to rest the foot.
“For him to continue to get treatment, stay off of it,” Ham said of what’s necessary for the injury to heal. “… We got some imaging done and everything came back clean, just again a normal wear-and-tear and just a little irritated in one area.
“We’re just taking this time that we have to get him treated and hopefully get him back so we can make a good run and he can be in the midst of it down the stretch.”
James is having a stellar season with averages of 30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists, but it isn’t reflected in the team’s record. The Lakers are a meager 26-31 and stand 13th (out of 15 teams) in the Western Conference.
The clash with the Trail Blazers is pivotal because Portland (27-29) is 12th in the West and the first team Los Angeles needs to surpass.
The Lakers drew encouragement from the win over the Warriors as they trotted out a revamped team after a flurry of trade deadline activity.
D’Angelo Russell, acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves for his second stint with Los Angeles, stood out with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.
“It was a little weird but I’m trying to normalize it,” Russell said. “The sooner the better. I’ve been in this situation. … After that first stint, you get kind of comfortable again.”
Dennis Schroder paced the Lakers with 26 points.
Portland has lost three of its four games and 16 of its past 26.
The Trail Blazers are coming off Saturday’s 138-129 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Portland is 0-3 against the 10th-place Thunder this season.
“I think it’s evident that it’s a tough matchup for us,” star guard Damian Lillard said afterward. “They get into the paint. They attack the rim. And they do that against everybody. I think they have good enough shooting.
“They got a lot of like-sized defenders to where they do well on the ball. They make you play in the crowd. And they play hard. They’re well-coached. They keep coming for the whole game.”
Lillard scored 38 points to score at least 30 for the 14th time in the past 18 contests. That run includes a season-high 60 in a 134-124 home win over the Utah Jazz on Jan. 25.
Portland almost surely will be without forward Jerami Grant, who was placed in the NBA concussion protocol on Saturday, one day after the loss to Oklahoma City.
Grant sustained a bruised right eye when he was hit in the face in the first quarter. He returned in the second period and finished with 23 points in 37 minutes against the Thunder. But the Trail Blazers said he began exhibiting concussion symptoms on Saturday. Grant will have to pass a series of steps before he can return.
Cam Reddish made his Portland debut against the Thunder and scored 11 points in 17 minutes. He was acquired from the New York Knicks prior to Thursday’s trade deadline.