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LeBron James will ‘be smart’ with ankle injury amid playoff battle

LeBron James accepts he must “be smart” in managing his ankle injury as the Los Angeles Lakers battle for their playoff seeding in the closing weeks of the regular season.

James has struggled with pain in his left ankle throughout the campaign, missing his 10th game of the year as the Lakers recorded a 128-124 double-overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

He then returned to star in Wednesday’s 136-124 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies, managing 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for his fourth triple-double of 2023-24.

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Having won five straight games, the 41-32 Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference standings and within touching distance of the top six.

James, however, knows he may have to prioritise his fitness in the coming weeks to ensure he enters the postseason in top condition.

“I’ve got to be smart with it,” James said after Wednesday’s game. “If I’m not healthy, or close to being healthy, then it’s not good for our ballclub anyway. It’s not good for me.

“We just have to be very strategic, understanding and seeing how my ankle and my foot is feeling.

“We are where we are, but our health has always been the most important for our ballclub. Not just one individual.

“Looking out for myself when it comes to injury, knowing my foot and knowing my ankle and how it reacts, and how it’s been over the last couple of years, it’s just about keeping a hefty eye on it.”

James’ team-mate Anthony Davis chose to sit Wednesday’s game out as he manages a hyperextended left knee, though he could be available for Friday’s meeting with the Indiana Pacers.

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