As LeBron James took the podium for his postgame press conference, after the Lakers lost to the Clippers 119-115, the result of the game was almost inconsequential.
Given that this was his first media availability, since clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols early after it was ruled that his positive test in Sacramento was a false positive, there were no prizes for guessing what the first few questions were going to be about.
James was placed into the league’s health and safety protocols prior to the team’s game against the Kings on Tuesday (ET). However, after the false positive, he returned multiple negative tests which led to him being cleared from the protocols.
“Pretty confused, frustrated, angry with not being able to do anything.” James said postgame regarding the past few days.
That false positive test forced James to miss the team’s game against the Kings. So, instead of playing his fourth straight game, which would have been a season-high, he missed the 12th game of a possible 23 (now 24).
“It’s been a very challenging year to start,” James said about being consistently in-and-out of the line-up. He added that he felt he was getting into ‘really really good rhythm’ before the Kings game.
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Coming to the Clippers matchup, playing his first game since Sunday against Detroit, James’ rust showed. Although he stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals, he shot 9-of-23 from the field including 2-of-8 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over thrice in 37 minutes of action.
“He’s had a tough few days, there’s no other way to put it,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said postgame. “I commend him for playing a really good basketball game. He didn’t shoot it well, but he was great.”
James, however, didn’t hold back on his performance, especially defensively as he called his performance ‘shitty’ in lineups when he played center.
With the loss, the Lakers slip back to .500 with a 12-12 record while the Clippers snapped their three-game skid and climbed above .500 to a 12-11 record.