LeBron James injury: Lakers provide fresh update ahead of Clippers | Other | Sport

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The four-time MVP has been out injured since Christmas Day when the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors due to a left groin strain.

And while he returned to full practice last weekend, partaking in contact drills, LeBron has not been passed healthy enough to face the Clippers as the Lakers go head-to-head with their Staples Center co-habitants.

It had been hoped he could return for the Hallway Series as the Lakers look to avenge a 118-108 loss suffered at the end of December, but LeBron will once again have to watch the game courtside. 

The 34-year-old has been missing for almost five weeks with the Lakers going 6-11 in that time.

That record has seen them slip from fourth in the Western Conference standings to ninth, two games behind the Clippers who occupy the final playoff spot.

LeBron has averaged 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists across his 34 games so far this season and his return will be a much-needed boost for the Lakers as they seek to end the longest post-season drought in the franchise’s history.

The Lakers have not been involved in the playoffs since 2012-13, when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, and LeBron’s arrival was meant to guarantee the end of that run.

The iconic forward has played in the post-season in all of the last 13 seasons and reached eight straight NBA Finals when he was in the East with the Miami Heat and then the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Lakers’ hope will now be that LeBron returns to the floor when they face defending champions Golden State once again on Saturday (5.30pm PST/1.30am Sunday UK).

While Luke Walton’s team beat the Warriors by 26 points at Oracle Arena on Christmas Day, the back-to-back NBA winners gained their revenge with a 19-point win of their own earlier this month.

The two teams take each on for the third time of the season back in Oakland again this weekend.

The bright side is that LeBron is making huge progress with his injury and was involved in the team’s scrimmage at the start of this week.

The Lakers, however, are taking time to ensure that their star returns 100 per-cent healthy given the expectation is that his return will get them back to a winning percentage and therefore back into the playoff picture.

Yet they are having to contend with a myriad of injury problems and could be short-handed against the Clippers with Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart both listed as questionable due to hip and knee problems.

On Wednesday, head coach Walton insisted that the Lakers’ preparations have been organised with the idea that LeBron would not be healthy to play against the Clippers.

“He looked good today,” Walton said of LeBron. “He did practice. We kept practice short, with all the injuries we have and minutes guys are playing. 

“But he did everything we had on the schedule and he looked good. He looked good two days ago in practice too. 

“So, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and we’ll take it from there. We’ll keep prepping as if he’s not going to play and hope that he’s healthy enough to play.”

Shortly after those comments, a Lakers spokesman revealed LeBron would not be available, say ESPN.



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