By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

It was a good sight to see number 23 of the Lakers return to action. LeBron had been out some 41 days and during that span he missed 21 games due to an ankle injury. That was the longest absence of his career. 

His return to Staples Center against Sacramento energized the team and the whole city. There were good signs like him driving to the hoop and dishing off to new Laker Andre Drummond but the Lakers fell to the Kings 110-106. 

He was pushing the ball on fast breaks, spinning and passing to teammates. James went 6 of 12 shooting, only one of eight from the arc and scored 16 points and seven assists in a modest 32 minutes. He did manage to extend his NBA double digit scoring streak to 1,037 games.  

Before his departure on March 19 the team posted a 28-13 record. Since then until his return it was 8-13.  

It was the first time in a long time he played Anthony Davis who was injured before James and missed 26 games. Davis finished the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a season high 5 blocks including four in the second quarter. That was his ninth double-double of the season. 

After a loss to Toronto on Sunday they hosted Denver Monday night. It was a different story with the team clamping down as LeBron sat out due to soreness in that ankle. He was joined by Dennis Schroder who will be out due to COVID protocols. Pre-game Frank Vogel stated: “Our team is a little shook right now.” This is mostly in part due to the absence of the pair. 

The Lakers still managed to defeat the Denver 93-89. Davis stepped up big time with a team leading 25 points. He added seven boards and three blocks.  

That help charge the Lakers on the defensive side holding the high-flying Nuggets to 89 points. It marked the 19th time this season they held their opponent under 100, they are 17-2 when doing so. 

Marc Gasol had 10 points and seven rebounds while Alex Caruso chipped in 11 points, 5 boards , and 3 assists in 28 minutes. 

(As of press time) LeBron appears to be day to day with the soreness. The team definitely want it healed by playoff time. 

As the city and state of California get vaccinated, many in the NBA are following suit. Many of the teams players around the league have had access to the vaccine since April 16. 

“We’ve pointed out to the whole team the benefits of everyone being vaccinated,” said Vogel. “There’s just for the lack of a better word lifestyles advantages of doing it. We can do more team orientated stuff if we reach 85 percent (vaccination rate). All those types of things including less testing.” 

It is hopeful that the league and the rest of us can accomplish this.