NBA

LeBron unsure on fitness for Clippers game after helping Lakers seal play-in spot

By Sports Desk April 05, 2023

The Los Angeles Lakers needed LeBron James to drag them through against the Utah Jazz, but he might not be available to face the Los Angeles Clippers.

A 135-133 overtime win in Salt Lake City on Tuesday ensured the Lakers guaranteed their spot in the play-in tournament in the Western Conference.

Yet with three games remaining of the regular season, the seventh-placed Lakers could still force their way into the playoffs without having to compete in the play-in round. They face the Clippers on Wednesday, with their city rivals sitting a place above them while holding an identical 41-38 record. 

James was crucial against the Jazz, scoring 37 points and playing 38 minutes – the most he has managed since returning from a foot injury that kept him out for four weeks. 

However, that strain might limit James' availability for Wednesday.

"The extra five minutes definitely didn't help. It definitely didn't help but we needed to get the win," James told reporters, before explaining his process of deeming whether or not he would be able to feature against the Clippers.

"How my foot feels when I wake up and I step out of bed," he added.

"That's been the most important since I've injured it five weeks ago. The next day after either rehab or training or treatment, whatever. It's always that."

Anthony Davis was unusually slack with his shooting, managing just seven-of-16 from the field and seven-of-12 from the free throw line for 21 points, though he still contributed 14 rebounds and six assists.

Davis has not played in back-to-back games since returning from a right foot issue earlier in 2023, and like James, he was unsure on whether he would face the Clippers.

"I haven't played in a back-to-back in a long time," Davis said.

"So, I mean, we'll all get on a phone call or something tomorrow morning and go from there."

Coach Darvin Ham confirmed no decision had yet been taken.

"We have our short-term business that we need to take care of and our long-term business that we need to take care of," Ham said.

"We prioritise a player's health, first and foremost. Regardless of what the stakes are or the implications of with a win or a loss or all of that.

"We need our players to know that we care about their health, first and foremost.

"If we see that they won't have any issues, in terms of their health, and we're not putting them at risk, then we'll proceed.

"If there's any kind of question marks, we'll walk through them, talk through them, and go from there."

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