The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a demoralizing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday in which they gave up a 26-point first-half lead, but the team could be receiving some good news ahead of Friday's matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I'm told there's some optimism that LeBron James will be able to return to the Lakers lineup Friday against the Cavaliers," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance Thursday on NBA Today.
James has missed the last two games with ankle soreness after a player rolled onto him during Sunday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Wojnarowski added that James' status has improved, putting him in line to return against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2003.
"There's optimism that that sore ankle, it certainly has improved, and that he can be back on the court against a very improved Cavaliers team," Wojnarowski continued.
Without James in the lineup, the Lakers have relied on the duo of Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to lead the team. While they were able to earn a close win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, they took their foot off the gas in Wednesday's loss and allowed a young Thunder team to earn its first win of the season.
The Lakers (2-3) have the fourth-best offense in the league with 116.0 points per contest, but defense has been a major issue for Los Angeles this season. Through five games, the team is ranked last in the NBA with an opponent's average of 119.6 points per game.
The Lakers have a veteran roster built for the postseason, but they're in danger of falling in an early hole if their defensive inefficiencies continue. James' potential return would surely help turn things around.