LeBron James is back, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Lakers.
James will be active for the Lakers’ game against the Bulls on Sunday afternoon after missing the previous 13 games with a foot injury.
The 38-year-old’s return comes at a time when the Lakers have worked their way up the extremely tight Western Conference standings, entering Sunday’s game in eighth place but tied with the seventh-place Timberwolves at 37-37 and 1.5 games behind the Clippers and Warriors with eight games remaining.
The Lakers managed to go 8-5 during James’ absence and took a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s home game.
Things are so wide open in the Western Conference that the Lakers began the day two games out of fourth place, but also one game from 11th place, which falls outside of the play-in tournament.
After Sunday, the Lakers will begin a five-game road trip with a rematch against the Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday before facing the Timberwolves, Rockets and Jazz.
The trip finishes with a de facto home game against the Clippers.
The Lakers will finish the season with home games against the Suns and Jazz.
James, who earlier this season passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, is averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 47 games this season.
Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers in James’ absence, averaging 27.3 points and 12.8 rebounds in 11 games since James’ injury.