Lakers struggling without LeBron James

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LeBron James is set to miss a fourth consecutive game for the Los Angeles Lakers when they entertain Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

The Lakers sit sixth in the Western Conference with a 21-16 record overall but have won one and lost two during James’ stint on the sidelines, and forward Lance Stephenson concedes his team are missing their talisman.

He told reporters: “It’s definitely tough because he’s very vocal.

“With him missing, it’s like everyone is quiet. You don’t know what’s going on on the floor. But the games that we had [this week], I think we got better at it.”

The clash with OKC could be the final game the three-time NBA champion misses due to his groin injury as he has stepped up his recovery.

The Lakers continue to list James as day to day but he did practice shooting on Tuesday in front of coach Luke Walton, meaning he could be in line for a return when the New York Knicks visit the Staples Center at the weekend.

“He’s working on his body, his game, himself all the time,” Walton told reporters.

“But that’s the first time I’ve seen him shoot [since the injury].”

The Lakers are 2.88 to beat Oklahoma or 9.50 to win by 5-8 points inclusive. A win for the Thunder is 1.44 and the visitors are 2.05 with a -6.5 handicap.

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