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LeBron James, Anthony Davis both officially in for Lakers vs. Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks off the court after warming up before the basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Arena on April 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — Beating the Pelicans Friday night at home is as must-win as it gets for the Lakers if they want to make the play-in this year, and their best players are in for the game.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis both will play.

Both are coming off injuries. Davis has been out since the All-Star break with a foot injury, but has been ramping up for weeks, was expected to play tonight, and before the game coach Frank Vogel made it official saying he “is in.”

LeBron was a “true game-time decision” according to Vogel, and an hour before the game was out taking some shots on the court, testing his sprained ankle and stomping his foot a few times to see if he could cut off it. LeBron also drained four shots in a row from 35 feet out, and while he didn’t have to move much for those it was a positive sign.

Half an hour before tip-off, it was announced LeBron would play and start.

LeBron injured his ankle a week ago against these Pelicans, stepping on the foot of Jaxson Hayes as the two went for a rebound.

While not mathematically a must-win game, the game against New Orleans is in practical terms for Los Angeles. The Lakers need wins against the Pelicans Friday and the Thunder next week, plus find another win or two against quality teams left on the roster (the Suns, two against the Nuggets). The Lakers enter Friday night out of the play-in as the No. 11 seed in the West, technically tied with the Spurs for tenth at 31-45, but the Spurs have two games left against the tanking Trail Blazers. That means the Lakers need to win at least three games, going 3-3 over their last six to get in (and Los Angeles may need to go 4-2 if the Spurs pull an upset or a team they are playing rests key guys).

The Lakers need LeBron and Davis to have a shot at those wins, and closer to the bubble versions of their two stars than injured guys just trying to gut out some final games.