While Southern California was being ravaged by raging wildfires that weren’t under any containment heading in Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers boarded a flight for Sacramento and a matchup with the Kings in the first of a back-to-back.
For all the attention the destruction in Thousand Oaks, Malibu and other local cities was deservedly receiving, Northern California was dealing with devastation itself. The effects of the Camp Fire in Butte County reached the state’s capitol.
Prior to tipoff at Golden 1 Center, there were multiple photos and accounts of smoke filling the upper bowl of the arena. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, there didn’t appear to be any consideration given to postponing the game.
While the NBA presumably deemed the environment suitable enough to play in, LeBron James battled an early headache that he attributed to the smoke, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“I had a slight headache before the game,” James said. “And I can’t pinpoint any other reason why it was going on besides the smoke. But it went away after the game started. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some good rest tonight.”
Even if he was not quite feeling 100 percent, James was able to score a game-high 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds in the Lakers’ 101-86 win. Sacramento was held to 32 points below their season average, and it was the first time this season the Lakers did not allow an opponent to score at least 100 points.
James sat for much of the fourth quarter, but it may have been more a product of the Lakers facing a back-to-back situation than lingering effects of a headache. He ultimately played 31 minutes.