LeBron James questionable against Blazers, as Lakers look to end 4-game slide

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“What he’s able to bring to the floor, it’s huge – his leadership, playmaking ability, his IQ,” Davis said. “But we got guys who can kind of step in that role and fill that void until he’s back, if he’s out.”James has been dealing with groin discomfort for most of the week, which he’s felt on the opposite side of the tear he suffered last year. While James felt good enough with treatment to play on Christmas against the Clippers, he acknowledged that a collision with Patrick Beverley in the first quarter aggravated the injury.Against Denver, Rajon Rondo started in place of James to give the Lakers a playmaker in the starting group. Coach Frank Vogel said the team will gauge how James feels after shootaround on Saturday morning before making the final decision. There’s an eerie feel to having such a similar injury to a year ago, which the staff acknowledged but didn’t delve into.“Like all injuries, we’re gonna be cautious about it,” Vogel said. “It’s certainly in the same area (as last year), but not the same injury. But it is the same area. So you factor that in.”The Lakers already have engaged a strategy of resting a player for extended time to recover from a nagging injury. Kyle Kuzma was the team’s leading scorer on Christmas (25 points) in just his second game back from a five-game break as he tried to deal with nagging ankle soreness. Vogel called it a collaborative decision between Kuzma, the medical staff, the coaching staff and the front office. EL SEGUNDO — It’s the second straight year of an unfortunate post-Christmas tradition: Checking LeBron James’ status on the injury report.While this groin injury isn’t related to or considered as serious as the one he suffered on Christmas Day a year ago, James’ status is still up in the air approaching Saturday night’s game in Portland, the first game of a weekend back-to-back. James is officially questionable, and was limited to non-contact portions of practice on Friday.Playing without James has historically been a dicey prospect for his teams throughout his career. This Lakers team is similarly reliant on him: Their only game so far without him was a 24-point loss to Denver on Sunday.While Anthony Davis is on the injury report himself, listed as probable with right knee soreness, he expected a better effort if James is either unable to play or somehow limited. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed center_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Speaking of bigs: Should James not play Saturday or Sunday (against the Dallas Mavericks), the Lakers’ plan would be to play more through Davis. But while many of Davis’ possessions in the early part of the season have been post-ups against one or two defenders, Green said he’d like to see a more kinetic use of Davis in half-court and full-court actions.“Not just force-feeding him in the post all the time, but obviously getting him in pick-and-roll situations, getting him downhill, letting him play on the wing, pick-and-pop,” he said. “But us moving the ball faster, better, just getting up the floor faster.”Davis tried to stress perspective, saying that the Lakers viewed their loss to the Clippers as “just one game.” But more glaringly for the Lakers, it’s not just one loss. Four straight defeats have increased the urgency for the team to get back on track – and they’re definitely feeling the heat.“I just think we all have to come more aggressive in our mindset,” Green said. “Can’t do it with one person, we have to do it together as a group. Everybody has to be thinking how to fill that void, or fill those shoes that are missing with him not on the court.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs An extended absence by James would likely be harder to weather, but Vogel didn’t take it off the table.“We’ll see how he’s feeling,” he said. “If he wakes up and goes into the gym tomorrow and feels 100 percent and there’s no pain, and he wants to play, we’re gonna play him. But certainly, if he’s limited or at risk, then we’re gonna be intelligent.”While James’ availability was the hot topic of practice, both Davis and Danny Green were more focused on how the Lakers can improve, regardless of who plays. Davis lingered on the late-game execution, which he called “pretty frustrating” with players coming out in the wrong spots or running the wrong play.A common theme between them: the slumping Lakers offense, particularly in the second half of each of the last two games. Davis noted that the Lakers get their best shots when they enter the ball into the paint: In the first half against the Clippers, they did it 33 times; in the second half, just 18.Without that penetration, Green said, the ball can get swung around the perimeter to death. Green called it a trend of the last few weeks: The Lakers have shot just 29.7 percent in their last seven games.“We didn’t put pressure on the defense,” Green said of the Clippers game. “A lot of them were swing-swing, around-the-horn-type shots which were contested or not rhythm. But when we touch the paint, we find more open looks and more rhythm shots, and that starts with our bigs.”Related Articleslast_img read more