D’Angelo Russell’s targeted injury return date, revealed

As LeBron James is set to miss two or more weeks with a right foot injury, at least the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be down another primary playmaker for much longer.

D’Angelo Russell is expected to return to the lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves after missing the past game-and-a-half with a sprained right ankle, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Russell suffered the injury early in his team’s win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors last Thursday. Quickly inbounding the ball after a Warriors make, Russell stepped on the foot of Donte DiVincenzo, rolling his right ankle and falling to the floor in a heap. He didn’t play for the game’s remainder.

Dennis Schroder started in Russell’s place on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks, a game in which the new-look Lakers came back from a 27-point deficit to earn a much-needed victory.

James “heard a pop” in his right foot while driving to the rim on Dwight Powell during Los Angeles’ stirring second-half surge, though, ultimately playing a pivotal role in the Lakers’ win while playing through obvious discomfort. Reports emerged a day later that the 38-year-old is likely to miss at least two or three weeks, putting the purple and gold’s postseason hopes at serious risk.

Los Angeles enters Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at 29-32, 12th in the Western Conference. Among the multiple teams the Lakers must pass just to make the play-in tournament is the struggling Timberwolves, who 31-32 sit a game ahead of Darvin Ham’s team in the standings.

Friday’s matchup, needless to say, looms even larger to Los Angeles’ fate over the stretch run of the regular season now that James is sidelined. Here’s hoping Russell will be available to pick up some of the four-time MVP’s offensive slack against his former team.

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