OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James strained his left groin Tuesday night during the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 127-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors, and he will undergo an MRI on Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury.
The initial feeling is positive, with James “in good spirits” in the locker room afterward and a source telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that the All-Star’s timeline for recovery is considered day-to-day, pending the MRI results.
James was hurt in the third quarter when he said he “overextended” his groin as his right leg slipped while Draymond Green poked the ball away from him. James said he “overextended” it further when he went back on defense immediately afterward.
When play returned to the other end of the court, James didn’t attempt to follow his teammates and remained close to the Los Angeles bench. James then told the Lakers’ medical and coaching staff that he “felt a pop.”
After the Christmas Day game, James told McMenamin: “The good thing is the muscle is intact.”
“With me with injuries, I am never too concerned about them,” said James, who had an electric stimulation device attached to his hip before he and the Lakers flew back to Los Angeles. “I was able to walk off on my own power. I felt a pop and see if I could stretch it a few times and see if it will relieve, but it didn’t.”
“I don’t know,” James added later when asked if he expects to miss time. “See what the MRI says and see how I feel for the rest of the day today. And I will be all around the clock tomorrow on rehabbing. And we will see how I feel on Thursday when we go to [Sacramento].”
The Lakers, who next play the Kings, were up 71-57 with 7 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter versus Golden State when James departed. He had his way with the Warriors at times during the first half, and he left with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
LeBron James describes how he injured his groin in the Lakers’ win over the Warriors and explains how he already has begun rehab and will know more after an MRI on Wednesday.
“I went in there and checked on him,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after talking to James following the victory. “He said he was looking forward to getting home and seeing his kids. We all are. But he was in good spirits. He was happy the team won. He’s been through a lot. He’ll be fine.”
James, 33, tried stretching the injury and immediately got treatment in the locker room before being ruled out later in the game. The Lakers were able to hold on against the Warriors without their leader, but it was the first time this season they had to play for an extended period of time without James.
“I’ve never really seen him injured,” said second-year forward Kyle Kuzma, who led the Lakers with 19 points on Tuesday. “If he has to go to the locker room, you know it’s something serious, because he does a hell of a job taking care of his body. You can count on one hand the number of times he’s been hurt.”
Any long-term injury to James would be devastating to the Lakers (20-14). James came into Tuesday averaging 27.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.2 assists while playing in every game this season. He has played in 116 consecutive regular-season games, one shy of his personal best, and 156 straight regular-season and postseason games combined.
“I take a lot of pride in [staying healthy], so that is why it pissed me off not being able to go back into the game,” James said. “It’s more than anything being available to my teammates, to my coaching staff; that is something I take more personal than anything.
“Hopefully, it is not a long thing and I can get back on the floor as soon as possible.”