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Darvin Ham says D’Angelo Russell ‘expected’ to return vs. Raptors

After missing a half-dozen games, the Lakers are set to welcome back D’Angelo Russell to the starting lineup on Friday.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After a longer-than-anticipated recovery, D’Angelo Russell is set to rejoin the Lakers and the starting lineup on Friday. Russell has been out since late February with a sprained right ankle, missing the last six games.

But following practice on Thursday, head coach Darvin Ham confirmed Russell would return.

Russell went down in the Lakers’ win over the Warriors on Feb. 23 with a sprained right ankle. Initially, the Lakers seemed optimistic he would be able to return quickly but that did not turn out to be the case.

Ultimately, Russell was listed as out for a series of games in a row despite target dates coming and going. On Tuesday, Russell went through a pregame workout after being listed questionable for the contest before ultimately being ruled out. That, though, was one of the final indications of how close he was to returning.

The Lakers, perhaps surprisingly, have not struggled in his absence, going 4-2 in that span. That isn’t to say, though, that his return will not be a welcome one, particularly with LeBron James nowhere near returning himself. It gives the Lakers more wiggle room at the very least and will help them continue their playoff push.

The Lakers have moved up to the No. 9 seed in the play-in and playoff race and are one of the hotter teams in the Western Conference over their last 10 games. Russell’s return should serve as further catalyst to move up the standings and perhaps on the other side of the play-in picture.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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