A big lead over the Golden State Warriors nearly turned sour for the Los Angeles Lakers, as LeBron James exited the game in the third quarter with a groin injury.
Despite missing their leading scorer, rebounder and passer for much of the second half, the Lakers still held off the Warriors for a 127-101 Christmas victory.
LeBron James suffers groin injury
James’ injury occurred when James lunged for a loose ball, followed by the 33-year-old gingerly walking around until he called timeout on the Lakers’ next possession. Most concerning for the Lakers was that James appeared to say the words “I felt a pop” before he headed to the locker room.
The Lakers later announced that James sustained a strained left groin and would not return to the game. Per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, an initial exam indicated the James avoided serious injury and only suffered a slight groin strain.
Yahoo Sources: An initial exam on LeBron James reveals all is intact and that it’s a slight groin strain. It could have been worse.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 26, 2018
James is scheduled to receive an MRI on Wednesday to get a clearer picture, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.
Lakers rally for big win over Warriors
James exited the game with the Lakers up 71-57 over a cold-shooting Warriors team. The night seemed headed for an inevitable Warriors comeback as the team proceeded cut the Lakers’ lead to just two points late in the third quarter, but the Lakers rallied to finish with a dominant win.
Rajon Rondo took over the Lakers offense in James’ absence, finishing with 15 points and 10 assists. All told, the entire Lakers team seemed to step up with seven different players scoring in double digits.
Where LeBron James and the Lakers go from here
Now victorious, the story for the Lakers turns to whether or not James will have to miss any time with his injury.
Losing James would obviously be a massive, massive blow for the 20-14 Lakers as they try to stay competitive in the Western Conference. James has been nearly injury-proof for his entire career, so missing a significant amount of time would be a very worrying development.
Through 1,176 career games LeBron James has been all but indestructible. The most times he has missed due to injury came in 2014-15, when he missed eight games due to back and knee strains.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 26, 2018
The last time Lakers' LeBron James missed a game was 4/12/2017 (last game of 2016-17 season).
He's played in 156 consecutive games (reg. season & playoffs).
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 26, 2018
If James is forced to break his streak of game appearances, the pressure will be on the Lakers to show they can at least keep their heads above water without their superstar. Fortunately for the team, the late rally on Tuesday seems to be a decent start.
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