LeBron (ankle) returns after 20 games vs. Kings


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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will return from the longest absence of his career against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

James, who has been out since March 20 with a high ankle sprain, will not be on a hard minutes restriction, according to coach Frank Vogel.

Friday’s game is one day shy of the six-week mark since Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill collided with James’ right ankle while trying to steal the ball from the four-time champion.

At the time of the injury, the Lakers had the No. 2 record in the Western Conference and the 36-year-old James was considered one of the front-runners in the league’s MVP discussion.

The Lakers have lost four of their past five games and are 8-13 this season without James, who is averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists.

Los Angeles, which started the season with a 21-6 record, now sits fifth in the West at 36-26 and has just a one-game lead over the No. 6 Dallas Mavericks and a two-game lead over the No. 7 Portland Trail Blazers with 10 games left in the regular season.

James will rejoin a Lakers team that has added Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore during his absence and that welcomed back Anthony Davis, who missed nine weeks with injuries of his own, to the lineup last week.

“I don’t think my brain can process what opportunities will come from [James] being on the floor,” Drummond said earlier this week. “When he does come [back], I’m sure great things will happen for everybody.”

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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