By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

The Lakers will begin their playoff run with a play-in game against Golden State at Staples Center Wednesday night (At Press Time). On the way to the round they reeled off five straight wins three of them without LeBron James. 

James returned after missing six games recovering from a right ankle sprain. He was making sure it was close to normal as possible. Earlier in the season he missed 20 games from the same injury on March 20 against Atlanta. 

While playing in Indianapolis, James took a lob pass from Dennis Schroder and threw down a one-handed slam. 

He was full of energy and that spread to his teammates as he finished with 24 points and 8 assists and 7 rebounds to go along with 3 steals in a 122-115 win over the Pacers.   

“I feel pretty good, a lot better than the last time I suited up,” said James on a video conference. “Just putting in a lot of work obviously off the floor, just getting my ankle right, getting my foot right. The last game (Toronto) I played I think the half time break it kind of stiffened my leg up and stiffened my ankle up on me. Today was a complete 180, it allowed me to still play the game that I wanted to play. So I think every game I’m going to get better and better but it was a good first time out.”  

Schroder had been in the league’s health and safety protocol. He had missed some seven games in a two-week period. This was the second time he’s had to sit due to COVID-19 issues. The first was in February due contact tracing. He had 14 points and 4 assists in the win. 

Andre Drummond has been a big plus grabbing 15 boards to go with 10 points. Since arriving he been averaging 12 rebounds ad 10 points per game. 

The team followed that with a win in New Orleans. James came away with 25 points leading five teammates in double figure scoring. He added six assist and three steals in 27 minutes on the floor.  

Anthony Davis had 14 and five rebounds while Drummond added scored 13 and added 13 boards in 21 minutes making it his fourth straight game with a double-double in a 110-98 win over the Pelicans. 

The Lakers and Portland finished the season with the identical 42-30 record, however the Blazers get the tie breaker as they won the season series 2-1 leaving them in the 7th spot forcing a one game playing against the Warriors. 

A Laker win over the Golden State leads to a seven-game series against Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.  

The team has rebounded well winning five straight after losing 8 of 10 games a couple weeks back Head Coach Frank Vogel stated, “I just wanted to make sure our guys stayed confident in where we were going and where we were going to be.”