Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ availability for the Boston Celtics clash is is still up in the air as the four-time NBA champion is nearing his return from an abdomen injury.
James has missed the last eight games with an abdominal strain having already paused for two nights due to an ankle issue earlier this season. The 36-year-old All-Star has played in just six games in 2021-22, averaging 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per night
His absence hurt the Lakers badly. They have lost six of the 10 games without James, scoring three points less on average and with their 3-point field goal percentage dipping from 38.6% to 32.6%.
The Lakers star’s chances to return against the Celtics were thought to be 50-50 earlier this week. The latest update suggests James will be considered a game-time decision to make his comeback on Friday, via The Athletic’s Jovan Buva:
LeBron James is a game-time decision tonight, per Frank Vogel.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) November 19, 2021
Head coach Frank Vogel said earlier this week that James “looked good” in individual workouts while continuing his rehab. The Lakers were expected to approach the forward’s injury with caution considering it occurred so early into the season.
Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves remain unavailable for the Friday game.
Vogel: Talen Horton-Tucker made case to remain among starters after James’ return
Talen Horton-Tucker came back from his preseason injury last week and has shown an outstanding form ever since. The young guard is averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists, starting each of the three games he has played in.
Vogel has said Horton-Tucker impressed him so greatly that the Iowa State product could remain in the starting lineup even after James’ return.
“Yes,” the coach said. “That’s not to say that when Bron comes back or we’re whole, I haven’t made any decisions about what that’s ultimately going to look like Sometimes scoring off the bench is what you need, but he’s been playing good as anybody from a standpoint of both sides of the ball. What he’s given to us on defense and what he’s given to us on offense.
“He’s been terrific in his first few games back and he’ll have a big role, but definitely has made a case.”
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