During halftime of the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, the NBA announced that Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James would not return to the exhibition with a right hand contusion he suffered on the rim.
A captain and the leading vote-getter from the Western Conference, James scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added four assists in 14 first-half minutes of his record-tying 19th All-Star appearance. A three-time All-Star Game MVP, James was squarely in the mix for the award again before the injury.
James caught his fingers on the rim trying to block a Pascal Siakam layup early in the second quarter. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer attempted a 3-pointer on the games’ next possession and remained on the court for an additional six minutes, suggesting he may have avoided serious injury to his shooting hand.
Fellow captain Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team led at the half, 99-92.
James entered the game still nursing a left foot injury. He missed three games before returning for the Lakers’ final game before the All-Star break and scoring 21 points in 29 minutes of a blowout victory.
“This couple of days [off] has helped, not having to stress it being out on the floor,” he said prior to the All-Star Game. “So it’s helped. I’m going to try not to go too crazy in the game. I’m going to have some fun, but not go too crazy. The most important thing for me right now is to maintain my health and be available to my teammates after this break, because we have to make a strong push if we want to do anything special.”
James called the stretch run “23 of the most important games of my career for a regular season. … Because I want to make a push to make the playoffs. I don’t want to see myself not being part of the postseason for two years straight.” His Lakers own a 27-32 record, 13th in the Western Conference.
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