NBA: La Lakers’ LeBron James returns to full-contact training

Updated on Jan 27, 2019 08:36 AM IST

Sunday marks the 16th consecutive game James has missed since he strained his left groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors

File image of Los Angeles Lakers’ Lebron James.(AP)
File image of Los Angeles Lakers’ Lebron James.(AP)
Los Angeles | ByReuters

LeBron James participated in full-contact defensive drills for the first time in a month at Los Angeles’ training complex on Saturday, but the four-time NBA MVP still won’t play Sunday when the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns.

“He was a full participant in that, so it was good to see,” coach Luke Walton told reporters. “He looked good. He’s still really good at basketball, in case you guys were wondering.”

Sunday will mark the 16th consecutive game James has missed since he strained his left groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors. Prior to this season -- his 16th in the league - the 34-year old James had never missed more than 13 games in a season. The Lakers are 5-10 without him, including a 120-105 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.

In his first season with Los Angeles, James is averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 34 games.

The Lakers’ next game after facing the Suns this weekend will be at home Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Thursday, the league announced James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were named team captains for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game after leading their respective conferences in voting.

James and Antetokounmpo will pick their own teams on Feb. 7 in a draft airing live on TNT.

As the top vote-getter among the fans (4.6 million), James will pick first, and the two will alternate picks until the other eight starters have been selected.

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