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LeBron James out vs. Pistons for load management

Lakers, LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James will be absent from Friday’s contest versus the Detroit Pistons due to load management and a groin injury. The Lakers are sticking to their plan of limiting James’ minutes, despite sitting 7.5 games out of a playoff spot with 14 games left in the regular season.

James logged 32 minutes during Thursday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, with his decision to sit Friday likely an indicator from the Lakers that catching their in-state rival Clippers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference is not something they believe doable at this stage in the year. With no James on the floor, expect many of the young Lakers to see increased workloads as the team will have ample minutes and shot opportunities available.

For all of the flak that James has caught for his team’s lack of success in his first season in LA, he has been a one-man army since returning from injury on Jan. 31. Across 16 games, he has averaged 27.5 points, 9.7 assists and 9.1 rebounds per game, including four triple-doubles in that span.

After having led the NBA in minutes per game each of the last two seasons, James is on pace for a career-low 35.3 minutes per contest in 2018-19. Depending on how often he suits up down the stretch, James could also set a new career low in games played, with his previous low (62) having come during the lockout-shortened season in 2011-12.

His next chance to return to action comes Sunday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, a game he is certainly not likely to rest for.