NBA

LeBron James' minutes 'always a concern', says Vogel

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Frank Vogel says LeBron James' game time is "always a concern" after the four-time MVP played a team-high 40 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

James starred for the Lakers in the previous day's defeat to the Phoenix Suns but was listed as questionable for Monday's clash with the Raptors due to soreness in his right knee.

The Lakers were 6-12 without James heading into the contest at Crypto.com Arena and Vogel took a gamble of sorts by not only using James but keeping him on the court for longer than any other player.

He delivered another impressive display with 30 points and nine rebounds, yet it was not enough to halt the Lakers' poor run as they fell to an eighth defeat in 10 games to go 29-39 for the season.

Despite James' fitness concerns, Lakers head coach Vogel is comfortable with his decision to keep the 37-year-old on the court against the Raptors, who won for a fourth straight game.

"It's always a concern," Vogel, who was in constant dialogue with James, said when asked about the forward's minutes. "But you feel the game out. There was enough stoppages. It's not always the total minutes on here. 

"It's what kind of flow the game has and there was enough stoppages that we never left like he was being too taxed."

 

James has played 1,845 minutes this season, which is second behind only Russell Westbrook (2,299) among Lakers players.

He has 1,487 points for the campaign and has averaged 29.7 across his 50 games, a tally that is bettered only by Joel Embiid (29.9).

Despite James' efforts, the Lakers left themselves with too much to do against the Raptors after finding themselves 24 points down in the first.

The hosts hit back to make it 109-97 with just over two minutes to go, but the comeback fell short.

Reflecting on another disappointing night for his side, a frustrated Carmelo Anthony said: "If you take away the first quarter, we won the game. We can't be digging ourselves holes or whatever. 

"We've been digging ourselves holes to start games off with. We did it against Phoenix, we did it again today. We find ourselves in those positions often this season."

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