Lakers vs Warriors Play-in: Why Did LeBron James Go Out of the Game Early?

Published 05/19/2021, 11:03 PM EDT
Jan 18, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) defends Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


The Lakers and the Warriors are battling it out to see which side will face the Phoenix Suns in round 1 of the playoffs. This is by far the most interesting play-in game that is witnessing the two titans in LeBron James and Steph Curry facing one another.

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That being said, LeBron’s availability on the court, as it seemed from the early minutes in the game, is going to stay limited. The star forward injured and then re-injured his right ankle several times in the last couple of months. So what’s the latest update on his status playing against the unpredictable Warriors?

LeBron James left the court early

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LeBron James puts weight on his injured leg as head coach Frank Vogel looks on. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In this live wire game, the Warriors took the first quarter 28-22 as Bron played under restricted minutes. King James spent just over seven minutes on the court before making his way out. In those many minutes, he managed 5 points, 3 boards, and an assist. 

According to Rachel Nichols, LeBron’s minutes are likely going to be back-loaded to help prevent his ankle from stiffening up. So going with this update, chances are strong that King James won’t show up for those 33+ minutes that he regularly times.

By the beginning of Q2, Frank Vogel had utilized nine players, Anthony Davis playing the most. And then later, even as LeBron came back, he looked far from his ultimate self as he allowed a rookie in Juan Toscano-Anderson to guard and block him.  

Read AlsoLeBron James Picks Stephen Curry as the Deserving Choice for 2021 MVP Throne

Why did the Lakers lose the first quarter against the Warriors?

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With both Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma going scoreless, none of the Lakers could touch double figures in Q1. On the other end, Kent Bazemore and Andrew Wiggins combined three early three-pointers to give the Warriors a boost. This early lead for the Warriors can cost the Lakers heavily if LeBron James does not find helping hands at the offensive end, and Steph Curry picks his shooting rhythm.

By halftime, center Kevon Looney had 11 rebounds, and the entire Warriors starting lineup had positive +/- on the board. King James in the second quarter appeared sluggish, adding just one point to his tally. Add the 16.7% field shooting (2/12) of Anthony Davis and the Lakers were a good-defense-very-poor-offense side in the first 24 minutes. The score before the beginning of Q3 gave a crucial 13-point lead to the Warriors.

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So who do you think will take the win? Help us know in the comments.

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Sourabh Singh

1258 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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