The Los Angeles Lakers could receive a jolt of energy this week with the return of the team’s best player.
According to The Athletic, LeBron James is targeting Tuesday’s home contest against the New York Knicks for his return to the floor.
James suffered a right, high-ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20, forcing him to miss 20 games in a row.
James returned from the injury six weeks later at the end of April. He played in two games against the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, both losses for the Lakers.
James complained about sharp pain in his sore right ankle after the Raptors game, shutting it down for the last four games to allow for more time to let his ankle heal.
In all, James has missed 25 games this season. The Lakers are 10-15 in those contests. Los Angeles is 28-15 in games that James started this season.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis said James is close to returning after his team’s 123-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
“What I’ve seen from LeBron today, he’ll be fine,” Davis said, when asked if James will be ready for the playoffs. “Trust me, he’ll be fine. He’s been in this game long enough — obviously he’s missed a ton of games — but he’s been in this league long enough to come back and lock in and do what he’s got to do to help the team.”
The Lakers (38-30) remain the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles faces a New York squad looking for a sweep of the L.A. teams. New York took care of the Clippers on Sunday, 106-100 at the Staples Center.
The Knicks are currently 3-2 on a six-game road trip, looking to finish things on a positive note with a win over the Lakers.
New York (38-30) is currently the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference, just a game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (37-31) and Miami Heat (37-31).
“The challenge for us to be hungry and don’t change now,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “This is what we’ve done all year. Just concentrate on improvement and our next opponent, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing. I think we’re learning a lot on this trip. … The toughness to win on the road and against these teams is telling us a lot, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Point guard Derrick Rose continues to have a rebirth in New York. Rose matched a season-high 25 points and dished out eight assists in his team’s win over the Clippers on Sunday. In his last five games, Rose is averaging 21.0 points and 4.6 assists a contest. Thibodeau coached Rose while with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It was great for me to come here, get some of that young blood, that young energy,” Rose said about joining the Knicks in a trade back in February. “I just try to help these guys by being a mentor, being vocal and working on myself. And that’s being vocal. I never talked this much in the past. I’m steady trying to get better as a player and it’s going to help me in the offseason.”
–Field Level Media