LeBron James is expected to make his return to the floor when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, May 12 (Thursday, May 13, Manila time).
James has missed 25 of the past 27 games due to a right ankle injury, including Tuesday night’s 101-99 overtime escape against the visiting New York Knicks.
James considered returning for the game against the Knicks but decided Tuesday to take one more day to allow the ankle to heal. He initially hurt it March 20 when he suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks.
James returned for two games but intense soreness after a game against the Toronto Raptors on May 2 pushed him right back out of the lineup.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel stopped short of confirming that James will play versus Houston. He said the team will make the decision on Wednesday.
“You always want to measure the response to (practice) workload and make a decision on whether it’s smart to be in the next night,” Vogel said.
Anthony Davis tweaked his groin while scoring 20 points against New York and said he will see how he feels as game time approaches.
“Very strong possibility that I fight through it and play,” said Davis, “but also don’t want to have it (linger).”
Los Angeles (39-30) notched a huge victory against the Knicks with the winning points coming on Talen Horton-Tucker’s three-pointer with 20.3 seconds left in the extra session.
“He’s got big guts, I can say that,” Vogel said. “He showed that with that shot.”
The Lakers are in seventh place in Western Conference with three games remaining. They stand one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks in the battle to finish among the top six and avoid the play-in round.
Los Angeles has won back-to-back games for the first time since March 26 and 28 as they enter the contest against the lowly Rockets (16-53), who have lost six straight games and 43 of their past 48 games.
The Lakers will be shorthanded in the backcourt Wednesday as Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols) will miss his seventh straight game and Alex Caruso also could sit out after leaving against the Knicks due to right foot soreness.
Houston hopes to have standout big man Christian Wood (right ankle) back on the floor after a four-game absence.
Wood, listed as questionable, averages 21 points and 9.6 rebounds in 41 games played.
Houston’s defense was missing in the opening quarter of Monday’s 140-129 road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland scored a franchise-record 50 points in the stanza and tied the NBA record for three-pointers in a quarter with 12.
Rockets coach Stephen Silas tried to give his injury-plagued squad some slack but found it impossible this time.
“You can see guys limping around and all that and I’m proud of the effort,” Silas said, “but I’m still disappointed in the defense – 140 points is a lot of points to give up.”
Kelly Olynyk returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury and scored 21 points. DJ Augustin also had 21, his most this season.
Khyri Thomas, recently signed to a 10-day contract, scored 18 points and is averaging 20.3 in three games with the Rockets.
Danuel House Jr. and DaQuan Jeffries each tweaked their right ankles on Monday. Both are questionable.
The Lakers swept a back-to-back in Houston in January, prevailing by an average of 17.5 points. – Rappler.com