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LeBron James expected to return to lineup Friday

by TLD

Lakers star LeBron James, who has missed the team’s last five games due to left adductor strain, is expected to make his return on Friday vs. the Spurs, Chris Haynes reported during Tuesday’s TNT broadcast (Twitter video link).

The Lakers will play a back-to-back set in San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, so if James avoids setbacks and does return on Friday, it’s unclear if he’d suit up for the next day’s game too. Still, it’s encouraging news for a Los Angeles team that has managed to hold its own with the four-time MVP sidelined.

When James went down with his adductor/groin injury, the Lakers were 2-9 and had lost four games in a row. That losing streak extended to five games in their first game without LeBron, but Anthony Davis led the team to three consecutive wins prior to Tuesday’s loss in Phoenix. L.A. is now 5-11 on the season, 3.5 games back of the 10th-seeded Timberwolves.

James’ .457/.239/.667 shooting line so far this season has been underwhelming, but his per-game averages remain strong. He has put up 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per night in his first 10 appearances (35.7 MPG).

Austin Reaves took James’ spot in the starting lineup during his absence, making him the most logical player to move to the bench upon LeBron’s return. Of course, even if Reaves is the odd man out, he could get at least one more start if Patrick Beverley ends up facing a suspension for his Tuesday altercation with Deandre Ayton.

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