For the first time since March 20, after missing 20 games, LeBron James returned to the Lakers line-up against the Sacramento Kings.
In the 110-106 loss, James finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 31 minutes.
"I thought he looked great," Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said on James postgame. I was very encouraged about how he looked. I thought he'd have more of a growth curve in terms of getting his legs under him (but) his conditioning looked really good."
James even had a shot at nailing a game-winner in his return but missed out.
LeBron couldn't make the potential game-winning 3.- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 1, 2021
Kings win. pic.twitter.com/3I0yprVCNQ
"As far as my wind, I felt pretty good. As far as my ankle, it was a little tight at times... as the games go on that will continue to improve," James said postgame.
The Lakers, who were outscored 32-18 by their division rivals in the fourth quarter, slip to a record of 36-27, good for fifth in the West but only hold a slim one-game lead over seventh-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.
The risk of falling into the Play-In seeds forces the Lakers to balance 'finding chemistry' heading into the playoffs and winning as many of the remaining nine games as possible.
"Even though it sucks to lose, I would rather find our way, find our path now than have to go through it in the playoffs," Davis said postgame.
Davis looked lethal in this game, contributing across the board with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and three assists, looking more and more like his former self on the defensive end of the floor.
Dennis moves in silence, AD does not.- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 1, 2021
(📺: @SpectrumSN, NBA TV) pic.twitter.com/Vn8qMvzJey
This is the first game James played alongside the Lakers recruits from the buyout market in Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore. It's also the first time he's suited up alongside AD since Valentine's Day in Denver.
'Minutes on the floor helps," James said postgame when asked about building chemistry.
So, while they still boast of the league's best defence, they still have plenty of work to do to find their rhythm and groove on offense, which has slipped to 21st in the league.
Of the remaining nine games, the Lakers play five at home including a few useful ones against playoff teams in the West in the Suns, the Nuggets and the Clippers that should most certainly help them in the run-up to their title defence in the 2021 postseason.
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