Lakers star LeBron James returned to the lineup against the Sacramento Kings. Although the Sacramento Kings defeated the Lakers 110-106, James earned 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
During the six weeks he was out, James spent most of his time rehabbing his ankle. He participated in no-contact, individual workouts. He has not practiced with the team; this makes in-season games a form of practice.
“I feel pretty good,” James said. “As far as my ankle, my ankle was a little tight at times just doing different movements, different things that I haven’t done.”
With James back in the lineup, players’ roles and minutes must be adjusted. James’ return impacts guard Dennis Schröder, according to forward Anthony Davis.
“For the past seven weeks, [Schröder] was the primary ball handler,” Davis said. “Now [James] comes back, now this role changes, just trying to adjust and get used to each other again.”
The matchup was the first-time center Andre Drummond played alongside James. Drummond noted how communication is imperative for them to succeed.
“I got a chance to talk to [James] and ask him how he likes to pick and roll,” Drummond said. “He pulled me aside and said “I like when you hold the screen” so, I did in the next play and he knocked down a big three for us.”
In order to get acclimated to Drummond and guard Ben McLemore, extra minutes on the court and off will be quintessential.
“The more minutes that we get on the floor with our full unit now that we have will only help us,” James said. “Every opportunity, film sessions, shoot arounds … we got to get better from here.”
The Lakers have nine in-season games left. Head coach Frank Vogel believes the next few games will be a challenge. The reigning champions faced similar challenges during their time in the Bubble last year.
“What we saw last year, it was bumpy going into the playoffs,” Vogel said. “Just have a growth mindset during this stretch and still prepare for success.”