LeBron James says the left ankle he rolled during the Los Angeles Lakers deflating loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday feels “horrible.”

Early in the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center — as the Lakers were rolling, in a game with heavy playoff implications that Russell Westbrook labeled a “must-win” — LeBron went up for an offensive rebound and landed centimeters in front of the foot of Pels' big Jaxson Hayes. LeBron instantly hit the deck and writhed in pain.


The Lakers called timeout, as James tested out his ankle and relaced his sneakers. He went back in the game, air-balled a three, then drilled four deep triples in a row. So it goes.

“I felt a sharp pain in my leg and it started getting hot, and I’ve been there with ankle sprains before,” LeBron said. “I didn’t want to come out of the game because I understood how big of a game it was for us”. James, of course, missed 20 games in 2020-21 with a high-ankle sprain.

LeBron scored 25 points in the first half — including six threes, tied for his most in a half in his career — but was clearly hobbled after sitting on his ankle during the halftime break. He ended up with 39 points, nine rebounds, and five assists on 14-of-27 shooting, including 7-of-13 from deep. Los Angeles outscored New Orleans 69-49 in the first half, only to be bested 39-67 in the final two frames. The 116-108 loss was perhaps the worst of the Lakers' season, considering the stakes and dramatic shift in tides.


“I have no idea how I finished the game, to be honest, after watching that replay. It’s pretty nasty,” an understandably dejected LeBron said afterward. He didn't even bother feigning optimism about his ankle — mere inches below his weary knee.

“It’s horrible right now. And unfortunately, we’re about to hop on a flight too. I’ve just got to get treatment around the clock, see what happens day-to-day, but it’s pretty sore right now.”

The Lakers will visit the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. LeBron said he had already begun treatment on his ankle.

James' latest injury comes after the future Hall of Famer took five-plus days of rest following his masterful performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers last Monday.

“A microcosm of the season,” he said.