Lakers vs. Clippers Preview: The Return of King James

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

"What I know of him, he's probably pretty locked in right now, ready to compete", Walton said before Thursday's game.

"Worked my ass off to get back to this point", James said.

Assists for LeBron James, who also had 24 points and 14 rebounds but fell just short of a triple-double.

It's been a while since we've seen LeBron James wear anything but a suit, as the Los Angeles Lakers star suffered a groin injury during the team's win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.

LeBron James was pretty anxious about his 7:30 wake-up call Friday. "That's going to be the tell-tale sign of the rehab and the work I've been putting in these last five weeks". The current injury stint has been the longest James' 16-year National Basketball Association career.

Obviously, it doesn't help that the injury bug has hit the team hard with Lonzo Ball expected to miss a month with a sprained ankle and Kyle Kuzma just returning from a hip injury against the Clippers.

‪While James was sidelined, the team went 6-11 and is now two games back from the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference at 26-25.‬.

The 28-year-old came off the bench to finish with 20 points, including career-high-tying five three-pointers, as the Lakers won 123-120 in overtime.

Lou Williams scored a team-high 24 points and Patrick Beverley added 17 for the Clippers, who shot just 53% from the free throw line.

James missed almost five weeks with a left groin strain.

He added: "This is where I can shut out everything, be out there with my guys, command my guys, and get a win on the road". Within seconds, the feeling from everyone inside Staples Center was that Stephenson's three-point opportunity would likely be wiped away and the Lakers guard would be hit with at least an offensive foul and a technical foul.

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