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LeBron James Scores 24 Points in Return After 17-Game Absence

The 17-game absence marked the longest in LeBron James's career.

Lakers forward LeBron James played 40 minutes and scored 24 in his return Thursday night in a 123-120 overtime win against the Clippers after missing five weeks due to a strained groin.

James, who missed each of Los Angeles's past 17 contests, was initially ruled out from playing in the game.

James had previously last played on Christmas Day, when he injured his groin against the Warriors. The injury stint marked the longest of James's career.

In his absence, the Lakers went 6–11, dropping from fourth to ninth in the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles lost six games during that stretch by 10 or more points.

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James was averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 34 games this season prior to the game.