James started Thursday against the LA Clippers after being sidelined since Christmas, a stretch of 17 games. Lakers coach Luke Walton said Saturday that James was sore after posting 24 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists in 40 minutes in the team's overtime victory.
The Lakers had hoped to limit James to 32 to 35 minutes but needed him in overtime.
"There was no taking him out at that point," Walton said before Saturday's game. "Who knows how sore he would have been if wasn't overtime, but I'm sure he still would have been sore. He hadn't played that type of basketball in five weeks. He does a lot when he's out on the court."
James was not on the Lakers' bench Saturday and instead was due to receive treatment during the game.
A source close to the star told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that James did not suffer a setback against the Clippers or aggravate the groin injury.
"Normally he might have been very hardheaded, but he's listening to himself and others for his own protection, which is smart," the source said.
Several Lakers players said they were unaware that James would be sitting out until the team arrived at the arena Saturday. The Lakers went through their morning walk-through at the hotel as if James would be in the lineup.
Walton said James would play Tuesday against Indiana but was unsure how the rest of the Lakers' trip through Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta would play out for James before the All-Star break.
"One game at a time, really," Walton said. "I know it's the typical answer, but it's true. He's got tomorrow off, flight Monday and we'll see how the Indiana game goes and then how he feels the next day. I can't answer it until the next day after that because I won't know how he responds until then."
James described himself as being at about 80 percent following Thursday's return. Data from Second Spectrum seemed to back that up. He spent only 3.9 percent of the time overall running fast, his second-lowest percentage in a game this season. His average speed on offense was 4.2 mph, his fourth lowest in a game this season.
Walton said there might be other times James could need days off for his body to recover.
"It's a possibility, but a lot of it will be dependent on how he's feeling and what the schedule is like at those times," Walton said. "Right now, it's more just him being sore after five weeks of not playing basketball. It is a few days from our last game until our next one in Indy, so when me and him talked, spoke, it was, 'As much as you want to play, let's make sure you're making the smart decision,' so he came over early and the decision was made."
In his first season with the Lakers, James, 34, is averaging 27.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists for a Los Angeles team that entered play Saturday night in ninth place in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the Warriors welcomed back shooting guard Klay Thompson on Saturday, and he scored a game-high 28 points.
Thompson missed the team's Thursday home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers because of an illness. He did not practice Friday and had been considered a game-time decision.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.