It was a moment of relief for the Los Angeles Lakers and their legion of fans as LeBron James came roaring back. But his return was not enough to ensure a victory against Sacramento Kings as they lost 110-106.
It was the lengthiest injury-induced layoff in his illustrious career. He was out for 20 games over six weeks for an ankle sprain in the right leg.
He was within a 3-pointer of ensuring a victory but narrowly missed. It was an otherwise strong return to the game. James eventually ended the game with a personal tally of 16 points. He had 8 rebounds, 6-of-12 shooting, and 7 assists. He had 5 turnovers and 2 steals in a little over 30 minutes.
The Lakers star said that he felt great given that this was his first game after six weeks. His ankle felt a little stiff but he got through fine.
James Roars Back Into The Game For The Lakers
His was the final name declared in the lineup and he let out a roar of relief and delight. His fans were equally thrilled.
The Lakers match vs the Sacramento Kings was the first instance that he was back before his home crowd after the pandemic induced pause on the last season. The Lakers finally won the season.
But there is a cloud over the team as they have lost 5 of their 6 recent games. They seem a far cry from the champion team.
Frank Vogel, the Lakers coach said he allowed James to pace his return and not be pressured by the string of losses. He had been slogging it out in rehab. But he said that getting back to the top level would be a tough ask, given his injuries over the years.
At 36, there was bound to be some slowing down, said Vogel. He remains at the top more due to his insight and penetration. James scored a 3 with less than two minutes remaining but then blew the next. The Lakers lost their last chance to go up. The loss rankled for James but he felt good to be back.