LeBron on return: 'To come back and feel like myself again is pretty cool'

Jason Miller / Getty

LeBron James is back and, to hear him tell it, better than he was earlier in the season.

While his return from an eight-game absence on Tuesday wasn't a success at the team level, James looked great in scoring 33 points with seven rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. More importantly, he felt great, which is paramount if the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to turn around their 19-20 season.

James wasn't sidelined with a specific injury, but instead took a few weeks off to rest his ailing knee and back, understandable maladies given the historic mileage on his 30-year-old body.

"I'm serious, I haven't felt right in a long time," James said Tuesday. "The way I was playing out there, that wasn't me. I had to do something."

James' stats before the rest were declining - his 25.2 points marking his lowest since his rookie season, and his 5.3 rebounds representing a career low - but were still among the league's best. 

The Cavaliers were also faring far better with James than without him, as the team is 1-8 on the season when he sits out.

Even with Cleveland struggling to find a groove, James sitting out may have been the best course of action for the team's long-term success. The Cavs need a healthy James in April, and the early returns suggest the rest was helpful. 

"I haven't felt like this in a long time," James said. "I couldn't make those moves two weeks ago. For me to come back and feel like myself again is pretty cool."

The next step is for James to try to find a way to lift the play of his teammates and improve the team's cohesion on both ends. A visit to Staples Center to face the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday should help, but daunting games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls follow.

LeBron on return: 'To come back and feel like myself again is pretty cool'
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