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James ramps up work at practice, listed as out for Thursday

* Thursday on NBA League Pass: Lakers vs. Clippers (10:30 ET)

LeBron James continues to make progress in his groin injury rehabilitation work. While the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t quite ready to declare James ready to play yet, his status is trending toward a return to the court.

However, despite increased participation from James at practice, coach Luke Walton and the Lakers are preparing to play without James against the LA Clippers on Thursday (10:30 ET, NBA League Pass) and he’s officially listed as out.

After Monday’s practice, Walton said the team would take a “day-to-day” approach with James’ availability.

Walton said that James is moving well, getting into the paint and shooting jumpers, if not driving aggressively to the rim and looking for tomahawk jams. When the media was let in after Monday’s practice was over, James was seen nailing 3-pointers around the line and then from 5 to 10 feet beyond it, writes Mike Trudell of

“He did more … we did some more up and down contact today, so the day before was half court contact, today we got up and down a little bit, did some short scrimmages,” Walton said. “He did that, and we just got a bunch of shots up.”

James took part in some short, three-minute scrimmages on Monday. Those sessions were full-go and were the closest James had gotten to replicating game action, Walton said.

James put a post on Instagram yesterday that made it appear as if he’s getting closer to his return, writing: “Almost that time again! I’ve missed you so damn much! #BeenACagedAngryLion. #striveforgreatness #jamesgang

James took part in full-contact defensive drills in practice late last week, marking the first time he’s done that since the four-time Kia MVP winner strained his groin.

The 34-year-old James has been out since Christmas due to the most significant injury of his 16-year NBA career. He had never missed more than 13 games in an entire season, but missed his 16th consecutive game on Sunday.

James practiced with his teammates Saturday at their training complex, but won’t return this weekend. The Lakers’ next game after that is Tuesday at home against Philadelphia.

James was selected this week to be a starter and a team captain in the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte on Feb. 17.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.