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LeBron James officially out Sunday vs. Denver due to back strain

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers participates in warmups prior to a game prior to a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on December 19, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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 Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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When the Lakers listed him as questionable on Saturday, this seemed the most likely course of action.

LeBron James is officially out vs. Denver Sunday night due to a thoracic muscle strain.

A thoracic muscle strain is a strain of the middle or upper back. The treatment is primarily to rest. LeBron suffered the injury last Tuesday against the Pacers but played through it to be on the court Thursday against the Bucks.

This is an injury, not “load management/rest” for LeBron, although if it means a few lighter days for him in terms of workload, it is not the worst thing. The Lakers need LeBron healthy and rested for the playoffs, which has them working hard to keep his practice/workload light on non-game days. (Also, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get rested near the end of the season if the Lakers have a top seed locked up.)

How long LeBron is out depends on the severity of the strain and his recovery speed, but you know he wants to play on Christmas Day next Wednesday against the Clippers if at all possible.

Anthony Davis missed two games with a tweaked ankle but is back. Kyle Kuzma missed five games with his ankle issue and is on a 20-minute limit Sunday night (expect him to come off the bench).

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