NBA notebook: Lakers expect James to play Friday

LeBron James participated in about half of practice Thursday, and coach Luke Walton expects him to play Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, The Athletic reported.

With the Lakers managing the superstar's minutes down the stretch, the superstar forward has sat out two of the past three games. He did not play in last Friday in the Lakers' 111-97 loss at Detroit or Tuesday on Los Angeles' 115-101 defeat at Milwaukee.

James did start and play 35 minutes Sunday in the Lakers' 124-123 loss at New York, finishing with 33 points on 11-of-26 shooting with eight assists and six rebounds. His potential game-winning jumper was blocked by Knicks forward Mario Hezonja in the final seconds.

--Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was fined $50,000 by the NBA for shoving Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in a Wednesday game.

In its announcement, the NBA said the amount of Smart's fine "was also based on his repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct during NBA games." Smart drew a $35,000 fine earlier this season for an altercation with DeAndre' Bembry of the Atlanta Hawks, and he has accrued $170,000 in fines during his five-year career, according to

Smart drew his latest fine after shoving Embiid from behind, sending the 76ers center sprawling to the floor. The 25-year-old Smart was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected from the game after the incident, which occurred with 11:06 to go in the third quarter.

--Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant's "adopted brother" and close friend Clifford Dixon was shot and killed outside of a metro Atlanta bar early Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Dixon, 32, was shot multiple times in a parking lot just after 1 a.m., police in Chamblee, Ga., confirmed. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A suspect fled the scene on foot, and no arrests were immediately made.

According to the Oklahoman, Durant's mother, Wanda Durant, took Dixon into the family's home when he was 16 years old. Dixon was one of the friends Durant thanked during an emotional speech after being named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season.

--Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. will have minor surgery on his left thumb and will miss the rest of the season, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The recovery is expected to be four to six weeks, according to the report.

Oubre, 23, has been playing the best ball of his career after the Suns acquired him in December as part of the trade that sent Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards.

Oubre has averaged 16.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games with the Suns, building on his career average of 9.4 points and 3.7 rebounds over four seasons.

--The Suns reached a two-year deal with Jimmer Fredette, giving the former college phenom a second crack at the NBA, according to reports.

Fredette, 30, is awaiting clearance from his current team, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Fredette averaged 36.9 points per game this season for the Sharks, who were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday.

Fredette, a 6-foot-2 guard who was the all-time leading scorer in BYU and Mountain West Conference history, will be signed through the rest of this season, with a team option for 2019-2020. He was the unanimous national player of the year in college basketball in 2011 after shattering NCAA scoring records.

--The Minnesota Timberwolves announced they will be without forward Robert Covington and guards Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague for their final 11 games of the season.

Covington hasn't played since Dec. 31 and recently experienced a setback in his recovery from a right knee bone bruise. Rose has missed the past four games because of a chip fracture and a loose body in his right elbow. Teague, having aggravated a left foot injury originally sustained in December, also has missed the past four games.

--Field Level Media