Lakers will not rush James back from injury

LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James when they faced the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, and they will have to get used to life without their injured star for some time.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said the decision on when the forward next plays will be made together with the team's medical staff.

"We are obviously not going to rush him back," he said on ESPN, following the 117-116 National Basketball Association loss at the Golden 1 Centre.

"We want to make sure he's healthy before we get him back out there. That could be an injury where if you come back too early you re-injure it and then you're out longer.

"We'll be careful and cautious when he starts playing again."

James did not travel to Sacramento, halting his consecutive games-played streak at 156.

"I will wait to hear back more from him and the doctors tomorrow," Walton added. "One thing I learnt from playing with some of the greats is you never count them out.

"But I am not going to anticipate anything until I hear back from him and the doctors."

James suffered a strained groin during the Lakers' 127-101 blowout road win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Team doctors officially diagnosed him with the injured groin after an MRI exam on Wednesday.

In his absence, Kyle Kuzma scored 33 points and Brandon Ingram added 22 as the Lakers dropped to 20-15.

Bogdan Bogdanovic had 23 points, Willie Cauley-Stein added 19 and De'Aaron Fox scored 15 points for the Kings (19-16), who won their third consecutive home game.

In Oakland, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard nailed a three-pointer with 5.1 seconds left in overtime for a stunning 110-109 win over the Warriors.

Jusuf Nurkic had a 27-point, 12-rebound double-double for Portland (20-15).

Stephen Curry led the Warriors (23-13) with 29 points, including six three-pointers. Kevin Durant had a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

In Houston, James Harden matched his career high for three-pointers to help the Rockets (19-15) extend their home-court winning streak to eight games with a 127-113 win over Boston (20-14). He scored a game-high 45 points - his eighth consecutive game with at least 35 - and hit nine of 18 three-point attempts to pace the Rockets to their eighth win in nine games overall.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 23 points and 11 assists.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2018, with the headline 'Lakers will not rush James back from injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe