LOS ANGELES — “Not again.”
It’s what went through the mind of LeBron James as he lie on the floor grabbing his leg. It’s what went through the mind of 18,997 Lakers fans in Staples Center as visions of last season flashed through their heads.
Midway through the second quarter Sunday night, the Grizzlies Desmond Bane drove the lane and put up a finger roll shot, Lakers’ center Dwight Howard slid over to try and block it and collided with Bane, knocking the Grizzlies forward to the ground. He fell right into the leg of LeBron, who was sliding in to grab a rebound.
It all looked similar to a season ago when the Hawks’ Soloman Hill crashed into LeBron’s legs while diving for a steal. LeBron suffered a severely sprained ankle that caused him to miss 26 games and he still wasn’t right for the playoffs last season.
“The first thing I was thinking to myself was, ‘Not again,'” LeBron said. “Because obviously, it was almost similar but not the same kind of play. Guy falls into my leg and there’s nothing you can do about it, and I couldn’t get my leg out of there in time.”
LeBron said he chose to lay on the floor for a minute — a long, agonizing minute for Lakers fans — to see how it felt and if his leg got worse. It didn’t.
“Had an opportunity just to tie my shoe again and see if I’m able to go, I was able to continue to go,” LeBron said.
LeBron played 40 minutes and had 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in the first Lakers’ win of the season, but said after the game his leg was “sore.” He said he planned to get around-the-clock treatment and he plans to play Tuesday in San Antonio. Frank Vogel and the Lakers’ staff may try to talk him into taking a night off. Good luck with that.
The good news for the Lakers is he can play. There were a few nervous minutes there Sunday night.