Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James suggested he re-injured his groin in the Christmas Day defeat to rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.
James returned from a thoracic muscle strain as the struggling Lakers went down 111-106 against the Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday.
The three-time NBA champion, who missed the loss to the Denver Nuggets, was nine of 24 from the floor and two of 12 from three-point range for 23 points and 10 assists.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, James – whose first season with the Lakers was ravaged by a groin injury – said he was kneed in the groin by Clippers opponent Patrick Beverley.
“I felt healthy going into the game. The second or third defensive possession I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev,” James said.
“That kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
It was another disappointing outing for Western Conference leaders the Lakers (24-7), who crashed to a fourth consecutive defeat.
The Lakers lost to the Clippers (23-10) for the second time this season, having dropped Opening Night against Kawhi Leonard’s team.
“They got stops, they made shots,” James said. “When we got stops, we weren’t able to counter on the other end and make shots. We’ll watch the film at our next practice and see ways we can get better.
“It’s a long season, it’s a marathon, so, you know, it was a great atmosphere. We had a chance to win. But they made the plays.”
Meanwhile, Turkish-born centre Enes Kanter played his first match outside the US for more than a year as the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 118-102 in Canada.
Kanter, 27, has been a critic of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In January 2019, Turkish prosecutors issued an international warrant for his arrest and he told the BBC he was trapped in the US.
Before Wednesday’s match he posted on Twitter “I’m Free” alongside a Canadian flag.
Jaylen Brown scored 30 points and Kemba Walker added 22 to beat Toronto 118-102, ending the Canadian side’s 34-game home winning run against Atlantic Division teams.
Speaking about being able to play outside of the US, Kanter told the New York Post after the game: “(It is) Definitely amazing.
“I just can’t describe it with words. Just going out there was more than just a basketball game. For me, it was just going out there and living this freedom.”