LeBron James, Luke Walton
John W. McDonough-Sports Illustrated

After missing 17 games due to a groin strain injury, LeBron James returned against the Los Angeles Clippers and finished one assist shy from a triple-double. While the Lakers came away with a crucial 123-120 overtime win, James playing 40 minutes in his first game in five weeks was not ideal.

As the Lakers continued their six-game road trip against the Golden State Warriors, the 34-year-old was experiencing soreness and did not play due to load management.

Following the 115-101 loss to the Warriors in which the Lakers had a 10-point lead in the third quarter, head coach Luke Walton provided more details about James.

“One game at a time, really. I know it’s the typical answer, but it’s true,” Walton answered when asked about managing James during the remainder of the road trip.

“He’s got [Sunday] off, flight on Monday, we’ll see how the Indiana game goes and how he feels the next day. I can’t answer it until the next day after that, because I won’t know how he responds until then.”

With the Lakers being extremely cautious with injuries for the past two seasons, it will not be any different with the best player in the league right now.

While Los Angeles is two games back of the Clippers for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs with 29 games remaining, James’ long-term health remains the franchise’s priority.

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