Lakers Rumors: LeBron James to Return from Ankle Injury vs. Joel Embiid, 76ers

Erin WalshDecember 9, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO - DECEMBER 06: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers shrugs in reaction during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on December 06, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 115-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is expected to return to the lineup for Friday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers following a one-game absence, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

James missed Wednesday's 126-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors with a left ankle injury.

James had been dealing with an ankle ailment since a Dec. 2 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. He played the following two gamesโ€”a win over the Washington Wizards and a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliersโ€”before sitting out Wednesday's game against Toronto, which was the second night of a back-to-back for the Purple and Gold.

James has been mostly healthy this season, though he missed a Nov. 7 matchup against the Utah Jazz with left foot soreness and missed five games from Nov. 11 through Nov. 22 with a lingering groin injury.

Any physical setback for the 37-year-old is somewhat concerning for the Lakers, especially considering he only appeared in 56 games during the 2021-22 campaign because of various ailments. With James and Anthony Davis limited by injuries last season, L.A. finished 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs.

In 17 games this season, James is averaging 25.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 33.1 percent from deep.

While the Lakers have shown signs of improvement over the last several weeks, they still sit 13th in the Western Conference with a 10-14 record. The health of James will be a significant factor in whether the team turns things around and makes a push for a playoff spot.

The Sixers, Friday's opponent, sit eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 12-12 record, as Doc Rivers' squad also hasn't lived up to expectations this year.