LeBron James did not play Monday night against the Nets and remains questionable for Tuesday’s game with the Knicks due to “some really significant soreness” in his left foot, Lakers coach Darvin Ham told reporters ahead of Monday’s game.
James, 38, will be reevaluated beforeTuesday’s game at Madison Square Garden.
With James just 117 points shy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record, his absence from at least one game this week pushes his timeline for breaking the record back and means he could eclipse Kareem at home in Los Angeles as opposed to on the road.
James, who turned 38 on Dec. 30, is averaging 30.2 points per game. Had he played against Brooklyn, he would have been on pace to break the NBA scoring record Saturday in New Orleans.
Instead, the timeline gets pushed back to Feb. 7 at home against the Thunder, or possibly Feb. 9 at home against the Bucks.
“I think he can be celebrated appropriately if he breaks that record in L.A.” NBA veteran Antonio Daniels said recently on SiriusXM NBA radio.
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With James missing the Nets game -- and Kevin Durant still sidelined with an MCL injury -- it means the two NBA superstars still haven’t faced one another since Christmas Day 2018.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau criticized the move to rest James -- and teammate Anthony Davis -- due to load management. Ham told reporters the plan was always to rest Davis as part of a back-to-back.
“I believe there has to be a respect for the game,” he told reporters Monday. “I know with Patrick [Ewing] and Michael [Jordan] and guys like that, even in exhibition games, they played. Patrick, he would play in all of ‘em. Even in a remote city he said he felt that obligation. He may not play the whole game, but he felt the obligation to the game, to the fans, to do that. And I think that’s important.
“If the season is too long, then maybe we need to shorten the season or eliminate the back-to-backs. So, it seems like that’s the path we’re going down and I don’t like the idea of sitting out games. But that’s where we are today.”
James figures to be motivated when he does return. he was apoplectic after officials in the Lakers-Celtics game failed to call a foul on Jayson Tatum as James drove to the basket for a potential game-winning layup at the end of regulation Saturday night. The Celtics ended up winning 125-121 in overtime.
James was beside himself after the no-call, hopping up and down, slapping the court, and holding his hands on his head before dropping to his knees in the paint and putting his head into his arms on the floor.
“There was contact,” crew chief Eric Lewis said to a pool reporter after the game, per ESPN. “At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”
“It’s challenging,” James said, after finishing with 41 points on 15-for-30 shooting. “I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.”
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Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter who covers Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media. You may follow him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and check out his Website at ZAGSBLOG.com.