LeBron returns just in time for the Lakers to be good again… just not yet

LeBron James made his return from injury but the Lakers still lost.
LeBron James made his return from injury but the Lakers still lost.
Image: Getty Images

After suffering a high-ankle sprain on March 20, LeBron James returned last night to help the Lakers defeat the struggling Sacramento Kings… except, they didn’t.

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Despite having both James and Anthony Davis together for the first time since February 14, the Lakers carried an 88-78 lead into the fourth quarter and walked out with a 110-106 loss. Davis had his first double-double since returning from an Achilles injury on April 22, recording 22 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks. In his first game back, James added 16 points, eight boards, and seven dimes in a full 32-minute night in his first game back, but it mattered none against the Kings. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 23 points and 10 assists, while Richaun Holmes added 22 points and nine rebounds.

As a result of the loss, the Lakers have dropped to 36-27 and are now just 0.5 games ahead of the six-seed Dallas Mavericks, while sitting six games behind the fourth-seeded Denver Nuggets, meaning the Lakers will likely remain in that 5-to-6 range with nine regular-season games to go. The Portland Trail Blazers are also just 0.5 games behind Dallas, meaning a LeBron James Play-In game is still in the realm of possibility.

The Lakers have nine games remaining, a run that begins by hosting the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, and also includes the Nuggets, Clippers, Blazers, Suns, and Knicks — in that order — before lightening up a tad for the final three-game stretch against the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and New Orleans Pelicans.