LeBron James (ankle) out for Lakers game vs. Warriors

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 10:55 PM

Two of the NBA’s hottest teams entering the All-Star break hope the week off hasn’t stalled their momentum as they go head-to-head Thursday night when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

The Lakers, though, will be missing LeBron James due to a lingering left ankle injury.

The California rivals begin the second half clinging to the ninth and 10th positions in the NBA playoff race, spots that would grant entry into the play-in event.

The Lakers solidified their status by winning their past three games following a loss to the Nuggets. They also had won three straight before the Denver game.

Los Angeles was last seen prevailing 138-122 at Utah on Feb. 14, doing so without James. The 39-year-old superstar returned for Sunday’s All-Star Game but made himself available for just 14 minutes due to the ankle ailment.

The Lakers announced on Wednesday that James would sit out the Golden State game. His status for Los Angeles’ Friday home game against the San Antonio Spurs and Sunday road game against the Phoenix Suns was uncertain.

“The most important thing for me is definitely my health, where I’m at right now, where our team is leaning,” James said over the break. “We’re trending in the right direction. Obviously, with our Laker team, it’s been about health all year. Trying to do what’s best for me for the betterment of the team.”

James appeared plenty healthy when the Lakers pulled out a 145-144 double-overtime road win against the Warriors on Jan. 27. He complemented 12 assists with 36 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, playing 48 of the 58 minutes.

The Warriors rebounded well from the defeat, winning eight of 10 before the break. Their only losses during the run were another overtime affair at Atlanta and a home defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers after blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead.

All-Star Weekend viewers saw Golden State star Stephen Curry put on a dazzling 3-point-shooting display in his showdown with WNBA standout Sabrina Ionescu. But that was nothing new to Warriors fans, who saw him make seven or more treys in seven of his last 11 games before heading to Indianapolis.

He bombed in nine 3-pointers to account for a majority of his game-high 46 points in last month’s loss to the Lakers to begin his recent flurry.

Curry got plenty of help when the Warriors — as the Lakers had done the night before — won their final pre-break game at Utah on Feb. 15. Coming off the bench for the first time since 2012, Klay Thompson burned the Jazz for 35 points.

Afterward, Curry admitted he wasn’t surprised by his longtime teammate’s performance.

“I think the natural evolution of all of our careers is trying to figure out how to continue to win, but it might look a little different,” he said. “The way that he responded is the Klay Thompson that I know — the true competitor, the true dawg. He got (angry) and said, ‘Watch this.’ I think a lot of it is just knowing who he is.”

With playoff positioning likely to be on the line, the clubs will meet two more times this season — March 16 and April 9, both in Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media