Report: LeBron could return from lengthy injury absence vs. Celtics


LeBron James already has missed nine of the Los Angeles Lakers' 15 games this season, but it appears he doesn't want to miss a matchup with the Boston Celtics.

There's "growing optimism" that James could return from an abdomen injury this Friday for the Lakers' matchup with the Celtics at TD Garden, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday.

James hasn't played since Nov. 2 due to an abdominal strain, and Los Angeles has gone 3-4 in his absence to enter Tuesday with an 8-7 record. Boston hasn't fared any better, as the C's sit at 7-7 following a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.

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Fans at TD Garden likely will relish the opportunity to boo James, whose rivalry with the Celtics goes way back to his days with the Cavs and Miami Heat. The 36-year-old has played 54 regular-season games against Boston in his career in addition to 41 postseason contests over seven playoff series.

The C's are just 2-3 through five games at the Garden, but perhaps seeing an old nemesis Friday night will rejuvenate the home crowd and help Ime Udoka's club take down James, Russell Westbrook and the retooled Lakers.