After missing 30 games in a row with what turned out to be a serious back injury, LA Clippers big man Serge Ibaka will officially return to the lineup for Friday night's meeting with the Houston Rockets.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue confirmed the news of Ibaka's return a few hours ahead of tip-off, saying he was "very excited" to see him get back on the floor. Lue did not confirm who would be in the starting rotation for the matchup, but it's assumed that Ivica Zubac will get the start at center.
Ibaka has been sidelined with what has officially been referred to as lower back tightness for roughly two months. He suffered the injury on March 14 in a 20-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, heading back to the locker room in the first quarter.
It's unknown how much time Ibaka will see on the floor tonight, but fans shouldn't expect to see him log a whole lot of minutes. The Clippers tend to limit returning players to a tight minutes restriction, and considering the length of Ibaka's absence, the team will want to be cautious with him.
Before he was sidelined, Ibaka was enjoying a solid first season with the Clippers. In 39 appearances — all starts — Ibaka averaged 10.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks across 23.6 minutes per game.
The LA Clippers will take on the Houston Rockets at 6:00 p.m. PST.