LeBron James (groin) won't be with Lakers on upcoming road trip

LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James will miss at least the next two games for the Lakers as he continues to rehabilitate a strained left groin, his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, told ESPN on Tuesday.

James has missed the past 11 games since suffering the injury on Christmas Day at the Golden State Warriors, and the Lakers have gone 4-7 in his absence, including Tuesday's 107-100 win against the hapless Chicago Bulls at Staples Center.

The groin injury was re-evaluated in Los Angeles on Wednesday -- the three-week mark since the injury occurred -- and James will not accompany the team on its two-game trip to Oklahoma City and Houston, Paul told ESPN.

Following the medical evaluation, the Lakers announced that James would return to practice next week.

Being without James comes at a treacherous time in the Lakers' schedule, as they will play the Thunder -- the No. 3 team in the Western Conference -- followed by the No. 4 Rockets and finally the No. 1 Warriors in the span of five days.

James has not been ruled out of the matchup with Golden State on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday night at Staples Center. James has been progressing in his rehab, participating in half-court shooting and passing drills at the Lakers' practice facility this week.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said he was "encouraged" by what he has seen from James on the court but was quick to add that James "didn't do the up-and-down stuff" with the rest of the team.

L.A. is 24-21 on the season and in a tie with the Utah Jazz for the No. 8 spot in the West.

"It's a tough three-game stretch," Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. "Super tough. Top-five teams in the league if you were to look at it from a year ago and even how they're playing right now. So for us, we got our hands full, and it's just more adversity we got to face, especially road games and coming home and playing on Martin Luther King Day."

The Lakers saw an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter cut to five before holding on to beat the Bulls on Tuesday.

It was a reminder of the disappointing recent results the Lakers were unable to avoid against the New York Knicks (a team that had lost eight in a row coming into the L.A. game and four in a row since) and the Cleveland Cavaliers -- which had lost 12 straight prior to their victory over the Lakers -- and the uphill battle they face in the standings.

"I mean, it kind of kicks you in your butt when you look at the games you've lost that you should have won," Kuzma said. "Obviously. Especially playing in the West, everything is so close. So we're outside of the playoffs right now, but we could easily be fourth right now. So you definitely look at it like that, but you got to just take it with a grain of salt and just bring it. Bring it every single night. Especially in the West."

The 13 games that James will miss -- now that Oklahoma City and Houston are off the table -- will match the most he has missed in a season when he reached that same total in the 2014-15 campaign. This season's total already represents the most games he has missed consecutively in any season, eclipsing the eight straight he sat out in 2014-15 while dealing with back and knee pain.