When LeBron James took the podium for his post-game press conference after the Lakers lost to the Clippers 119-115, the outcome of the game was almost insignificant.
Since this was his first media availability, there were no prizes to guess what the first couple of questions would be about.
James was entered into the league’s health and safety protocols ahead of the team’s game against the Kings on Tuesday (ET). However, after the false positive result, he returned several negative tests that resulted in his being struck from the logs.
“Quite confused, frustrated, angry at not being able to do anything.” James said after the game over 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 game in a row, which would have been a season high, he missed the 12th out of a possible 23 (now 24).
NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock live out-of-market games (7-day free trial)
When he got to the Clippers matchup and played his first game since Sunday against Detroit, James’ rust showed. Despite filling the stat with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals, he shot 9-of-23 off the field, including 2-of-8 from beyond the arc and flipped the ball three times in 37 minutes.
“He’s had a tough couple of days, there is no other way to put it.” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “I commend him for playing a really good game of basketball. He didn’t shoot well, but he was great.”
James didn’t hold back his performance, especially defensively, calling his line-ups “crappy” when playing in the middle.
With the loss, the Lakers slid back to .500 on a 12-12 record, while the Clippers grabbed their three-game skid and climbed over .500 to a 12-11 record.