Lakers’ LeBron James misses Sunday’s game with muscle strain

first_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe first public sign that James, an MVP candidate so far, would miss Sunday’s game at Staples Center was on Saturday afternoon, when the Lakers said he had missed practice and would be doubtful for the home contest.Vogel said James had collided with a Pacers player in Indianapolis on Tuesday, but played through the injury in the Milwaukee game on Thursday. James had averaged a triple-double in the two games, and while he told reporters in Indiana that he thought he might be coming down with a cold, he didn’t mention any other discomfort.The Lakers started Rajon Rondo in response to James’ absence. Vogel has often talked about Rondo as the other “quarterback” of his offense alongside James. While Rondo’s per-game average for assists has dropped this year (5.6 apg), Vogel said he thought Rondo’s improved 3-point percentage (42.9 percent) had helped set up his playmaking.Related Articles Vogel acknowledged that Kuzma has been behind the eight-ball since summer, when a foot injury caused him to miss all of training camp. He called it “impossible for him to be comfortable since he’s missed nine games so far this season with various ailments.“Now we start the process again of getting him back involved and getting him comfortable,” he said. “He’s a young player with a whole new cast of teammates and a new coaching staff, a new system. So with younger guys, you know, it takes a little time sometimes, but he’s gonna be a huge, huge factor for us this year.”Lakers lit a fire under JokicSince an underwhelming close to last year’s second round of the postseason, there’s been a few question marks about Nikola Jokic, a top-five finisher in MVP balloting last season. A sluggish start to the year only added to the cloud over his head.After a Dec. 4 loss to the Lakers, Jokic told local media, “I’m struggling.”But for the last eight games, Jokic has turned things around. He’s averaging 22.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists as the Nuggets have won five in a row entering Sunday’s game. Coach Mike Malone said pregame that Jokic has put a lot of outside doubts behind him.“He’s an MVP candidate for a reason,” he said. “We’re more than having fun, we’re just getting back to the way we’ve played for five years.”How much did that have to do with the Lakers? In that last match-up, Jokic was just 2 for 7 in the final quarter, as Anthony Davis stood tall on defense. It might’ve been the catalyst for the Serbian center to play back to his All-NBA level.Malone felt at the least, Jokic was more aggressive in the end of that game than he had been to start the season.“His aggression, that’s what Iiked in that game,” he said. “It carried over to that road trip where it kinda kicked off his recent surge in his play.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs “When he’s knocking down threes, the defense is chasing over and they’re staying with him on the perimeter and it opens things up,” Vogel said. “But when they chase over his pick and rolls or his pin downs or whatever action he’s in, he gets going downhill. He’ll pick defences apart.”The Lakers were glad to welcome back Kyle Kuzma, who scored his first basket toward the end of the first quarter, which was his first points since Dec. 8 against Minnesota. Kuzma had missed five straight games entering Sunday night. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years LOS ANGELES — He was in his usual seat, at the end of the Lakers’ bench to the right of DeMarcus Cousins. But he was not in his usual attire: a black hoodie and a black blazer, wearing a number of rings and wristbands.LeBron James (thoracic muscle strain) did not play on Sunday afternoon against the Nuggets, the first time he has missed game this season.The Lakers had anticipated this might happen, so Frank Vogel didn’t carry any sense of panic as he talked pregame about playing without his star. But the moment did feel a little grim.“The medical team just told me he’s day to day,” he said. “We’ll literally take each step one day at a time.” Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more