LeBron James returned to action Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies at Crypto.com Arena after missing his first game of the season for two days.
James was listed as doubtful for the team’s 122-119 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday after suffering a left calf contusion when he collided with Kevin Durant in the first quarter, but he remained in the game. Scored a team-high 32 points and pulled off a game. A game-high 11 rebounds.
Despite James’ absence, the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 116-110 on Sunday at Crypto.com Arena.
Tuesday’s game is the Lakers’ first game in the inaugural NBA in-season tournament at Crypto.com Arena. Friday’s win in Phoenix was their first game in the tournament.
The competition will be divided into two stages – group stage and knockout stage. All 30 teams in their conferences were randomly divided into five groups based on their win-loss record during the 2022-23 regular season. The Lakers are in Group A of the Western Conference with Phoenix, Memphis, Utah Jazz and Portland.
Each team will play four designated group games – one against each opponent in the group, with two at home and two on the road. The NBA has designated Tuesdays and Fridays from Nov. 3-28 as “Championship Nights,” with games on those nights being group stage games.
(No NBA game was played last Tuesday because of the league’s policy of not playing games on statewide election night to increase voter turnout.)
The first place in the six groups, as well as the best and second place team in each division’s group stage will advance to the knockout rounds.
The single-elimination quarterfinals will be played in the NBA team market on December 4-5. The semifinals and championship games will be held in Las Vegas on December 7 and December 9.
All games except championship games will count toward the team’s regular season schedule.
Each player on the championship team will receive $500,000. Each player on the losing team in the tournament will receive $200,000.
Each player on the losing team in the semifinals will receive $100,000 each. Each player on the losing team in the quarterfinals will receive $50,000 each.
Championship games will be played on a court that the NBA describes as “bold and unique” with a unified look.
“Some of the courts look a little funky,” James said.
The course is covered in paint from edge to edge, with each lane painted a contrasting color to create a 16-foot-wide “runway” on the course. There will be a legendary NBA Cup on the center court, and there will be a silhouette of the NBA Cup on the lanes.
This will be the first time the league will use alternate stadiums for all 30 teams. The Lakers’ playing field is mainly gold and the track is purple.
Tuesday’s game was the Lakers’ first home game at the alternate court. This tournament will be the first time four other teams — the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and Portland — play home games in another arena.
The team will wear Manchester City jerseys throughout the tournament. The Lakers’ Manchester City jersey for the 2023-24 season is black with a triangular wordmark, which is inspired by their early training jerseys in Los Angeles. The numbers are in the same style as those on the jerseys from 1999 to 2017.
Joe Dumars, the league’s executive vice president and director of basketball operations, called the tournament an opportunity to “engage fans in a different way and further generate interest in the early portion of the regular season schedule.”