LeBron scores 24 in return, Lakers win to keep sixth seed hope alive
It all comes down to Sunday, the final day of the NBA regular season — the Lakers could still avoid the play-in tournament if they take care of business and get a little help.
Los Angeles took care of business on Saturday. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Dennis Schroder all back on the court for the Lakers, they knocked off the Pacers 122-115.
With that win, two things have to happen on Sunday for the Lakers to get the No 6 seed in the West (if only one of them happens the Trail Blazers to hold onto sixth). First, Los Angeles has to beat a shorthanded New Orleans team (no Zion Williamson, no Brandon Ingram, no Lonzo Ball).
Second, Portland has to lose to Denver — and it’s not likely Denver will push all-in to win that game (both the Nuggets and Clippers would prefer the No. 4 seed, on the other side of the bracket from the Lakers, and the Nuggets can only get that spot if they lose and the Clippers win).
Fall to the seven seed and on Wednesday the Lakers would host the winner of Sunday’s Memphis at Golden State game, which will decide the eighth seed.
Whatever seed the Lakers end up with, whether or not they have to go through the play-in, what matters most is the health of their stars and how they are playing. Davis looked good dominating the early part of the game Saturday, and LeBron has seven key fourth quarter points on his way to 24.
“It is going to take time to get his timing back to 100%, but for most of the game he looked good,” Vogel said, via the Associated Press. “He looked like his old self again.”
“It felt a lot better than the last time I came back,” LeBron said. “I felt good coming into the game. I think each game I’ll get better and better. It will take a few games to get it all back. It’s up to coach and training staff if I play (Sunday).”
The Lakers game Sunday tips-off a the same time as the Denver/Portland game, so the Lakers will go in both needing the win and scoreboard watching. Normally the Lakers would not push LeBron to play a back-to-back coming off an injury, but these are not normal times. We will find out about his status on Sunday.