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LeBron James Says He's 'Got To Be Smart' As LA Lakers Push For NBA 2023-34 Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers are on a five-game winning streak and occupy ninth in the Western Conference with nine regular-season games remaining

LeBron James in action against the Grizzlies.
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LeBron James knows he is no good to the Los Angeles Lakers if he is not healthy, as the 39-year-old said he will prioritise his well-being over a playoff push. (More Basketball News)

The 39-year-old has been nursing an ankle issue for much of this season, though he returned from a one-game absence in emphatic fashion on Wednesday.

James finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists – his fourth triple-double of the season – to help the Lakers to a 136-124 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

"I got to be smart with it," said James, who has missed 10 games this season. 

"If I'm not healthy, or [anywhere] close to being healthy, then it's not good for our ballclub anyway. It's not good for me."

James said he would have played in the Lakers' win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, had he been willing to take any risks.

"I mean, I would've probably tried to play yesterday [in Milwaukee] if that was the case," he added.

Explaining his thought process behind his load management for the rest of the season, James said: "Just be very strategic.

"Obviously, understanding and seeing how my ankle and my foot are feeling. But just being very smart about it, obviously.

"We are where we are, but our health has always been the most important for our ballclub. Not just one individual.

"But for me looking out for myself when it comes to injury and knowing my foot and knowing my ankle and how it reacts, and how it's been over the last couple of years, it's just always keeping a hefty eye on it."

The Lakers are on a five-game winning streak and occupy ninth in the Western Conference with nine regular-season games remaining.

Anthony Davis sat out of Wednesday's win with a knee issue, with coach Darvin Ham saying the Lakers would assess the situation further on Thursday.

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