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Lakers' James will play tonight vs. Pacers

Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James will be back in the lineup tonight against the Indiana Pacers (7 ET, NBA League Pass), days after missing the Lakers’ last game for “load management” reasons.

James last played on Thursday in a 123-120 overtime win against the LA Clippers. That game was his first after missing 17 straight contests with a strained left groin suffered on Christmas night. At shootaround on Tuesday, James confirmed he would play vs. the Pacers and would not be under a minutes restriction, although coach Luke Walton said there is an ideal number they’d like to keep James under minutes-wise.

James missed the Lakers’ 115-101 road loss to the Golden State Warriors for “load management.” James woke up last Friday feeling “pretty sore” after playing 40 minutes vs. the Clippers. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in that game, when the Lakers had hoped to keep James to 32-35 minutes but needed him in overtime.

Additionally, center Ivica Zubac had an MRI that revealed a small avulsion fracture on his left middle finger. He is not expected to miss any games because of the injury.

James is averaging 27.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Walton said there may be other times James could need days off for his body to recover.

‘It’s a possibility but a lot of it will be dependent on how he’s feeling and what the schedule is like at those times,” Walton said Saturday. ”Right now, it’s more just him being sore after five weeks of not playing basketball.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.