LeBron James hopes to return vs. Pelicans, Anthony Davis progressing toward game-time decision

LeBron James hopes to return to the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup Friday after testing his sprained left ankle before their game against the New Orleans Pelicans, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

James, who will miss his second straight game Thursday against the Utah Jazz, returned to Los Angeles earlier this week to continue his injury rehabilitation.

The Lakers are also hoping for the return of star forward Anthony Davis, who is progressing toward being a game-time decision for Friday’s game, sources told Wojnarowski. Davis has not played since Feb. 16 because of a right midfoot spray.

The returns of James, the NBA’s leading scorer, and Davis would be a major lift to a struggling Los Angeles team clinging to the final postseason spot in the Western Conference entering Thursday’s road game in Utah.

The Lakers (31-44) are one-half game ahead of the Spurs (31-45) for 10th place in the West and are 1½ games behind the ninth-place Pelicans (33-43).

The Lakers used their 32nd different starting lineup of the season in Tuesday night’s loss to the Mavericks, going with Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook in the first five.

James, 37, is averaging 30.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 55 games this season. The four-time league MVP holds a slim lead over Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (29.9) for the NBA’s highest scoring average.

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