LOS ANGELES — Lakers star LeBron James walked out of Wednesday’s 114-101 loss to the LA Clippers midway through the fourth quarter with what he says was a groin injury and has not returned.
Team doctors will assess James on Thursday and perform medical imaging on his groin to determine the extent of the injury.
James limped off the field with 5 minutes and 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter and grabbed his groin area. The team said he was suffering from pain in his left leg.
“I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on the play,” James said of the footage when he appeared to edit something while displaying the Clippers’ Paul George. “Just as I landed I felt a little spasm or tightness in my groin so I immediately had to come out after that on the next play when I went to the free throw line.”
James, 37, suffered a torn left groin during the 2018-19 season – his first in Los Angeles – which caused him to miss 17 consecutive games from late December to late January.
Comparing his current discomfort with what he went through four years ago, James said: “It’s not as bad.”
James hasn’t ruled out playing in Los Angeles’ next game on Friday against the Sacramento Kings.
“I’ll go around [the clock] treatment for 24 hours, and hopefully on Friday I’ll be in the queue,” he said.
The injury marred a strong showing from James, who had 30 points on 12 shooting for 22, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in 32 minutes.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said his message to James after the game was to “do what you have to do, just take care of your body”. But losing James – the team leader in minutes, points and assists – for any length of time would be a major challenge for a team that is 2-9 after its fourth straight loss.
“I mean, it’s just a lot of adversity,” Ham said. “[James] went out of his way to be there for us and play at a high level. I thought he was doing really, really well tonight. But it’s just something it’s NBA season, man. You have to be ready for a bit of everything. We’ll see once it’s assessed, and we’ll be ready to move on.”
Ham said he didn’t want anyone on the Lakers to feel the need to be a “hero” if James missed playing action, but Anthony Davis said he would feel compelled to do more.
“For me, the mindset just changes to getting out there, being aggressive and trying to find ways to help the team win – whether it’s more shots or letting me know that’s my job. to make these guys better,” said Davis, who had 21 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers. “It’s my job anyway. But it’s accentuated when someone like LeBron is out with all he can do on the floor.”
James appeared relatively calm about the injury, saying “I’m still tied no matter what”, but there were a series of questions that irked him in his post-match press conference: free throws.
He was 2-for-4 from the line Wednesday, marking the fifth time this season he’s attempted four or fewer free throws.
“I would also like the whistle to sound when I’m hit,” James said. “I saw a lot of guys tonight shoot a lot of jumps and they go nine, 13 times to the free throw line.
“I need to learn how to flop or something. Seriously. I need to learn how to do this. Sweep your head back or do something to get to the free throw line because the ‘I missed it’ [he hears as an explanation from the referees] becomes too repetitive. It’s three games in a row ‘I missed that’.”
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