WASHINGTON - Christmas has not been kind to LeBron James of late.
In last year's holiday upset of then-defending champion Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar suffered a left groin tear and ultimately missed 27 games, the worst injury of his career. In Wednesday's loss to the rival Clippers, James injured his right groin in the first quarter and laboured the rest of the way.
James sat out Sunday's home loss to Denver - the first game he missed this season - with some groin discomfort that was aggravated by a knee from Patrick Beverley.
Reports said James is expected to miss some time. The Lakers (24-7), still on top of the Western Conference despite losing four straight games, visit Portland on Saturday and host Dallas on Sunday.
"To be honest, I haven't even thought about Portland just yet," said James, who is averaging 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists.
Last season, the Lakers were just 9-18 without James. That team did not have superstar Anthony Davis, who is averaging 27.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. However, this season the Lakers are plus-10.8 points per 100 possessions when James plays and minus-1.6 points when he sits.
James turns 35 on Monday. In his first 15 seasons, he missed just 71 of 1,214 possible games (5.8 percent). In one-plus seasons with the Lakers, he has missed 28 of 113 games (24.7 percent).
"I'm always around the clock with my body, getting my treatment," James said. "If I'm feeling great, I'll be in the lineup. If I'm feeling well, I'll be in the lineup. But like I said, we'll see what happens."
Injury issues: The Toronto Raptors are starting to feel the pain of their injuries.
For the last four games, the defending champions have been without Cameroon native Pascal Siakam (groin), Spanish centre Marc Gasol (hamstring) and reserve guard Norman Powell (shoulder), all of whom are out indefinitely. The trio accounts for 46.1 points, 18.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.
Initially, Toronto weathered the storm with two wins led by veteran guard Kyle Lowry, including a franchise record 30-point comeback vs Dallas. But the Raptors (21-10) have dropped two straight to Indiana and Boston and are really missing Siakam, who averages 25.1 points.
"Scoring is not very easy for us right now," Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. "It's tough."
The Raptors get a break from the schedule. After a rematch Saturday with Boston, only two of their following 11 games are against teams with winning records.
Game of the week: Denver at Houston, December 31. The second matchup of Western Conference contenders. The Rockets beat the Nuggets at home on November 20, holding scorer leader James Harden to 28 points and forcing him into eight turnovers.