LOS ANGELES – Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving will return to action Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.

However,  Luka Doncic said although his left thigh strain has made some marked improvements in recent days, he won’t be available to play against the LakersLuka.

Irving missed the previous three games while nursing soreness in his right foot. Coach Jason Kidd said Irving is able to play Friday because of “the proper steps of his treatment, his rehab on the court with the way he feels. The last couple of days he felt better.

“I think yesterday — having that time on the court — and then he was going through shootaround (Friday morning) he felt great, so he’s ready to go.”

Meanwhile, after Friday’s shootaround, Doncic addressed the media and said he’s hopeful of playing in Monday’s game in Memphis.

“But we’ll see,” he said. “It’s day-to-day. I expected (the injury) to be a little bit better than it (is).

“But you know, I’m just slowly getting treatment and getting better.”

Doncic’s treatment consists of massages, ice and a cold tub.

In Friday’s shootaround, Doncic said he just did “a little bit” of shooting. Nothing strenuous.

“I was more out there just doing some court stuff,” he said.

The Mavs are 1-2 in the three games Doncic has recently missed. And since he’s a basketball junkie, it’s been difficult for him to sit and watch his teammates try and win games without him.

“It’s tough being on the bench just sitting and watching,” Doncic said. “Especially in these kinds of situations where we need every win we can get.

“It’s just frustrating to be on the bench right now.”

TimThe Mavs enter Friday’s game against the Lakers after rallying to defeat the San Antonio Spurs, 137-128, in overtime on the road this past Wednesday. The victory left the Mavs with a 35-35 record and moved them one game ahead of the Lakers (34-36).

“It was a great win,” Doncic said. “We need as many wins as possible right now.”

The Mavs will have guard Tim Hardaway Jr. back in uniform for the game against the Lakers. Hardaway was out against the Spurs with a left calf contusion.

Hardaway said he wanted to make sure he wasn’t pushing things so he could get back on the court quicker.

“I’m known for playing through a lot of injuries, so I just needed to take care of what’s needed to get taken care of before this last stretch of games,” Hardaway said. “I twisted by ankle against Utah (on March 7) and right after that we had a back-to-back and I played 40 minutes the next day (on the road against New Orleans on March 8).

“So, it’s like that (ankle) really hasn’t been healed, then this happened. I just wanted to make sure I was making the right decision – the smart decision – and I feel good.”

Meanwhile, Doncic described injuries as an unfortunate part of the game “that happens to every team. Injuries are part of the sport.”

Twitter: DwainPrice

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