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LeBron James ready to roll as Lakers resume play after All-Star break: ‘It’s go time’

LeBron James has put the NBA on notice that he’s rested, refreshed and ready to roll as the league tips off the unofficial second half of the 2020-21 season.

The Los Angeles Lakers resume play following a nine-day layoff for the All-Star break with a Friday night tilt against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center. In anticipation of the game and as a warning that he’s prepared to take things to a higher level, James shared a message for the masses with reporters on Thursday.

“It’s go time,” James told reporters on a video conference call Thursday before the Lakers’ first practice since the break ended, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “It’s time to get prepared and making that turnaround, that last lap going into the postseason. … I’m not into looking ahead saying, ‘OK, let’s take this off, take that off.’

“Nah, it’s go time for me.”

The Lakers return to the court Friday unfortunately with a conspicuous absence, as Anthony Davis remains out due to a calf injury. The star will miss Friday’s game against the Pacers at a minimum, according to Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

With Davis out as well as Marc Gasol unavailable of late, the Lakers have struggled. The team won just three out of its last 10 games heading into the break.

James, known for being fully capable of strapping a team on his back when necessary, views the All-Star break as an opportunity to get laser focused on the finishing the season strong.

“I kind of use the first half of the season as being in gear 1, 2 and 3, and then in the second half being in more like 4, 5, 6, and then when the playoffs start you’re in 7,” James said. “And that’s kind of the way I’ve always kind of adjusted over the last few years of my career, really just ramping up more, more and more as the months go on as the games go on going into the playoffs.”

Amid the Lakers’ slide ahead of the break, a narrative emerged that James was getting worn down and needed to rest. The Lakers star unsurprisingly dismissed any such notion about his energy level. That said, James did sit out the Lakers’ final game before the break on March 3, a 123-120 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

It was suggested ahead of the season that the remarkably narrow turnaround between the conclusion of the COVID-19-compromised 2019-20 season to the tipoff of the 2020-21 campaign could especially impact the defending champion Lakers, James in particular.

James was no fan of the historically short offseason, understandably, and just last month¬†pushed back against the suggestion¬†that the challenging circumstances could leave him feeling worn down this season, saying, “I don’t get tired.”

With James leading the way, the currently shorthanded Lakers head into Friday’s showdown with the Pacers sitting at 24-13 and slotted in the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference behind the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.