NBA

LeBron upgraded from out to doubtful for Lakers' clash with the Bulls on Sunday

By Sports Desk March 25, 2023

LeBron James is not yet ready to return from a right foot injury, but there are now signs that he is getting closer.

James has been upgraded from 'out' to 'doubtful' for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Saturday.

The superstar has been sidelined since February 28 and has missed the Lakers' past 13 games, with Los Angeles going 8-5 during that span to reach .500 for the first time this season.

"Progressing as normal," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said Friday when asked about James’ rehabilitation process. "Just doing the work that needs to be done to get his foot all the way together."

While still unlikely that James suits up Sunday, there seems to be a chance that he could play Wednesday when the Lakers visit the Bulls in the opener of a five-game road trip.

The 38-year-old James, who has missed 27 games this season, is averaging 29.5 points per game and would rank among the league-leaders if he had enough games to qualify.

His return comes at a crucial point for the Lakers, who are currently tied for the seventh-best record in the Western Conference at 37-37 after their current three-game win streak. They still have the time to climb out of the play-in tournament spots, while they are also only one game ahead of the 11th-ranked Dallas Mavericks.

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    Jokic and Murray became the teammates in NBA Finals history to record triple-doubles as the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 109-94 on Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

    Two-time NBA MVP Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the first such game in Finals history, or at least the first since assists were tracked.

    The triple-double was his 10th this postseason and 16th of his career, a number that trails only LeBron James (28).

    Murray had 34 points and 10 assists and completed his first career playoff triple-double with a rebound with nine seconds remaining, and Jokic lauded his teammate for leading the Nuggets through the playoffs so far.

    "He's playing phenomenally, I think, the whole playoffs," Jokic said of Murray.

    "We're just following him and he's a really good leader. His energy is amazing, and we are just following.

    "He's reading the game really well. He's getting guys involved, and I think he's mature, if that makes any sense, and he knows where to find the guys and how to control the game.

    "It's not just us, it's the team, and like I said even before the series started, the Denver Nuggets need to beat Miami, not me and Jamal and whoever is on the other side. We as a group need to beat them."

    Asked how proud he was of his record-achieving performance, Jokic replied: "To be honest, I just think it's a win because if you lose, nobody is going to even mention it. I don't care. It's just a stat."

    The Nuggets' win came after they had lost Game 2 of the series at home.

    Jokic added: "When you lose the game, of course it's a bad atmosphere, whatever, it's a bad momentum. But maybe it helped us to refocus and just be better in the details. But that doesn't mean that we can relax now or whatever. We need to have the same effort because they're going to be even better."

    Nuggets coach Michael Malone eulogised over the performances of his star players.

    "I think it's the first time in Finals history or maybe NBA history that two guys have 30, 10 triple-doubles, so that's incredible right there," Malone said.

    "Regarding Nikola, nothing he does surprises me ever. This guy has shown time and time again that he's built for these moments. He thrives in these moments, the biggest stage. He did that once again tonight.

    "I'm really proud of Jamal, and I could tell speaking to him yesterday, being around him the last 48 hours, that he was putting a lot of Game 2 on him, and it wasn't just him. It was me and every one of our players. It was collective.

    "But that's what champions do. That's what warriors do. They battled back. I felt his presence all day long. Forget the stats for a second. I felt Jamal's presence, his energy, and he was here in the moment and for him and Nikola to do what they did tonight in a game that we needed to take, regain home-court advantage of the series was special to watch."

    Reflecting on his performance in Game 2, Murray said: "I felt like I didn't bring the intensity that the moment called for. Even though I didn't play terrible, I felt like I could have done a lot more.

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    The pair became the first teammates in finals history to chalk up triple-doubles – Murray finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while Jokic added 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in Miami.

    “I’m just glad that we won the game,” Jokic said. “It was a big one for us because they won in our arena. We just didn’t want to go down 2-1. We were more locked in, more focused.”

    Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for the Heat and Bam Adebayo finished with 22, but the hosts were unable to produce one of the comebacks which have been their trademark during the play-offs.

    Seven times in the post-season they have rallied from at least 12 points, but down by 14 heading into the final quarter they were unable to produce another late rally.

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    Miami’s Udonis Haslem, who turns 43 on Friday, came off the bench in the final 30 seconds to become the oldest player in the NBA Finals, taking the record of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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    Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray became the teammates in NBA Finals history to record triple-doubles and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 109-94 on Wednesday for a 2-1 lead.

    Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the first such game in Finals history, or at least the first since assists were tracked. The triple-double was his 10th this postseason and 16th of his career, a number that trails only LeBron James (28).

    Murray had 34 points and 10 assists and completed his first career playoff triple-double with a rebound with nine seconds remaining.

    Christian Braun provided Denver with a lift off the bench, scoring 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes. Aaron Gordon had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists to help Denver win its fourth straight postseason road game.

    The Nuggets took the lead for good late in the first half and outscored the Heat 29-20 in the third quarter for an 82-68 advantage heading into the final quarter. The lead ballooned to as big as 21 points before Miami whittled it down to 103-94 with just over a minute left.

    Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, but Bam Adebayo was the only other Heat player with more than 10 points, adding 22 and 17 rebounds. Miami lost its third straight home playoff game after winning six in a row there.

    Game 4 is Friday in Miami.

     

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