LeBron James momentarily terrified the Los Angeles Lakers when he seemingly reinjured his right ankle during Sunday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The moment came midway through the fourth quarter when James, having a strong game in only his third outing since initially suffering a high-ankle sprain, went up for a layup off of a spin move. James landed awkwardly and left the game afterward, and with the regular season officially ending on Sunday, the Lakers wouldn't exactly have time to get him back up to speed in time for Wednesday's play-in game against the Golden State Warriors if he had seriously re-injured the ankle.
Fortunately for the Lakers, both coach Frank Vogel and James himself confirmed that the ankle was fine. "It was a tweak," James said. "I stepped on [Nickeil] Alexander-[Walker]'s foot on the way down after that last layup, but I'll be fine."
James had little incentive to return to the game regardless of his health status. By that point, the Lakers were essentially locked into the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. James played on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, and with 27 minutes of playing time already in the books, it's not as though he needed any more for the sake of conditioning.
The Lakers are now focused firmly on the Warriors and Stephen Curry, whom James called the MVP after Sunday's victory. The Lakers will need LeBron to look like his old MVP self if they are going to slow Curry down, so his postgame comments should serve as a major relief for the entire organization.