Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James returned to the court Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers after missing 17 games due to a groin injury he sustained on Christmas Day.
The Lakers went 6-11 without James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who entered the night averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 34 games in his first season with the team.
While James will be closely watched for signs effects of the injury, Lakers coach Luke Walton said James would not have any minutes restrictions. James was in the starting lineup.
James, who was hurt in the Lakers’ win over Golden State on December 25, was initially listed as out for the Thursday night game on Wednesday, and then upgraded to doubtful on Thursday morning.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers called James’ return “the worst-kept secret of maybe ever. Maybe I’m not just a trusting soul. I just thought it was too obvious when yesterday out of nowhere he’s out. Usually you don’t hear it that early. I told our coaches then, he’s in.”
The Lakers began play Thursday in ninth place in the Western Conference, two games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot.