The LA Lakers lost LeBron James in the third quarter to a strained left groin before going on to beat the two-time defending champions Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.
King James scored 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists before the injury concern hit in a surprising 127-101 rout of their Californian opponents.
James grabbed at his left groin area with 7:51 left in the third after slipping under the Warriors’ basket while trying for a loose ball. He tried to stretch it out, awkwardly walked toward the Lakers bench trying to loosen up before leaving on his own though gingerly out the tunnel for the locker room.
It’s pretty rare for me to have an injury, period,’ he said. ‘It happens and we’ve got a great medical staff here, I’ve got a great trainer.
‘I wasn’t able to go back into the game, obviously. I’ll get an MRI tomorrow and see what’s up. With me with injuries, I’m never too concerned about them. I was able to walk off on my own power. I felt a pop, see if I could stretch it a few times, see if it would relieve but it didn’t. I did a couple exercises to see if I could continue to go but I didn’t feel like it would benefit my team or me. So I came back and got a jump start on the rehab.’
James has played in 156 games in a row and 116 in the regular season.
‘I take a lot of pride in it,’ James said. ‘That’s why it (angered me) not to be able to go back into the game. It’s more than anything being available to my team-mates, being available to my coaching staff. That’s something I take more personal than anything. Hopefully it’s not a long thing.’
Stephen Curry made consecutive three-pointers shortly after James departed, and the Warriors got within 78-76 at the 2:48 mark of the third – but Kyle Kuzma and the persistent Lakers continued their momentum. Curry wound up with 15 points but the home fans had seen enough well before the final buzzer and left to celebrate Christmas.
Kuzma contributed 19 points, Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo added 15 points and 10 assists off the bench as the Lakers ended an 11-game losing streak at the Warriors since a 118-115 overtime win in 2012. The Lakers also ended a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry with their first win in the series since March 2016.
James made it look easy early on shooting over Jonas Jerebko and Kevon Looney. He then hit a turnaround jumper at the 4:39 mark of the second quarter to put the Lakers ahead 52-37 and they led 65-50 at the break.
It was James’ second straight Christmas game at Oracle Arena after playing here with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, where he lost 99-92.
Kevin Durant, playing on a tender left ankle, scored 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Andre Iguodala came off the bench and made his initial five shots on the way to a season-high 23 points.
Golden State shot just nine for 36 from deep with Curry going two of eight and Durant three from eight.
LeBron James left Los Angeles’ 127-101 win against Golden State midway through the third quarter with a strained left groin, and the Lakers expected to know more about his status following an MRI exam Wednesday.
The Lakers star grabbed at his left groin after slipping under the Warriors basket at the 7:51 mark of the third trying for a loose ball. He said he has had the injury before but ‘not in a long time.’
Elsewhere on Christmas Day, Utah Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 117-96, the Boston Celtics overcame the Philadelphia 76ers 121-114, Houston Rockets narrowly beat Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 and the Milwaukee Bucks saw off the New York Knicks 109-95 at Madison Square Garden.