LeBron James misses part of Lakers’ playoff push with foot injury


LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a significant setback when LeBron James suffered a right foot injury Sunday that is expected to sideline him for several weeks, a person with knowledge of the situation said, spoiling what had been a rare streak of optimism during a turbulent season.

James, 38, had been listed as out with right foot soreness for the Lakers’ next game, a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, after falling to the floor and clutching his foot late in the third quarter of a 111-108 win over Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

The All-Star forward cut to the basket, received a pass and made a move to dribble past Dwight Powell as he attempted a right-handed layup in traffic, only to fall to the court while drawing a foul. James reacted immediately, holding the middle of his right foot and saying he “heard it pop”.

Despite the setback, James continued to play, with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. The four-time MVP walked with a noticeable limp after the game.

“It’s been better, that’s for sure,” James said after Sunday’s win. “I definitely wasn’t going to go to the locker room. I finished the game tonight.”

On Monday, James posted an Instagram photo of his foot in a protective sock alongside the caption “(Expletive) sucks!!!!”

James missed three games before the All-Star break with soreness in his left foot, and he was sidelined for two weeks in November with a groin injury. The Athletic first reported Monday that James would be sidelined for an extended period.

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The new-look Lakers, who added D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Rui Hachimura in deals before the trade deadline, must now mount a push for the playoffs without their leading scorer. Los Angeles is 5-9 this season without James, who is averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists.

It has been a historic and frustrating campaign for James, who this month became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and set a league record by appearing in his 19th All-Star Game. But injuries to James and Anthony Davis have contributed to another losing season for the Lakers, who entered Monday’s game as the Western Conference’s No. 12 seed at 29-32.

After expressing impatience with the state of the Lakers in December, James vowed at All-Star Weekend that the balance of the season represented some of the “most important games” of his career as he sought to avoid missing the playoffs for a second season at advice. . With about six weeks left in the regular season, Los Angeles is one game out of the West’s play-in mix and 2½ games away from securing a guaranteed playoff spot by finishing with a top-six record in the conference.

Although the Lakers did not land Kyrie Irving despite James’ public campaign for a reunion with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, they did trade Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz for a package of players that rebalanced their roster. Los Angeles is 4-1 since parting ways with Westbrook, including convincing wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors, two teams in the West’s play-in mix.

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