Pacific Notes: James, Ayton, Clippers, Payton II

LeBron James had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes during his return to action on Sunday, but the Lakers lost 118-108 to Chicago. James said if he had listened to some medical experts, he would have been shut down for the season, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (Twitter links).

James, who missed 13 consecutive games, said he tore a tendon in his right foot — an injury that typically takes longer than just four weeks of recovery. Doctors told him he healed from the injury faster than they’ve ever seen. The Lakers superstar got recommendations from two doctors to undergo season-ending surgery, but he went to see the “LeBron James of feet,” who helped to get him back on the court.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Deandre Ayton missed the Suns’ win over Philadelphia on Saturday and has now been sidelined for four consecutive games due to a right hip contusion. However, there’s optimism he’ll return on Monday — he has been listed as probable to play against Utah, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Clippers have lost three of their last five games, including a 21-point defeat administered by New Orleans. The Pelicans controlled the game from the start and Kawhi Leonard left the game in the third quarter with a facial bruise after being elbowed. The Clippers play four games in six games, beginning on Monday night, and need a strong finish to avoid the play-in tournament, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. “It’s tough to dig yourself a hole and try to climb out every single night,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We got to be better starting games.” Leonard is probable to play on Monday, Greif tweets.
  • As expected, Gary Payton II was available to play for the first time since the Warriors re-acquired him from the Trail Blazers at the trade deadline, Kendra Andrews of ESPN tweets. He had been sidelined by a right adductor injury.
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