Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-106 on Wednesday night in the NBA’s marquee Christmas game.
LeBron James, who ended with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, aggravated a nagging groin injury after a first-quarter collision with Patrick Beverley and could miss game time moving forward.
According to ESPN, several members of the Lakers organization have already approached James about the urgency to sit out and rehab his groin injury until he feels fully recovered.
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James told the network. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
Montrezl Harrell had 18 points off the bench, Paul George added 17 and the Clippers improved to 2-0 versus the Lakers this season. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points while Anthony Davis had 24. The Lakers have lost a season-worst four straight games.
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Los Angeles had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but video review showed James touched the ball last after Beverly knocked it away as James went up for a three.
George hit two free throws for the final margin.
James, who turns 35 this week, suffered a torn left groin versus the Golden State Warriors last Christmas that derailed the Lakers’ season.
Fortunately for the Lakers, the schedule is about to get a bit easier. They have a back-to-back looming with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, though Luka Doncic remains out. After that, the Lakers play four consecutive home games versus opponents not currently in the postseason picture, so if James needs time off, they should be able to hold down the fort while he recovers.
Considering the groin injury that ruined James’ 2018-19 season, the Lakers seemingly got off easy here. They may not be as fortunate if James pushes the issue. If rest is his best chance at a speedy recovery, then rest should be the priority until he returns to full strength.
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