James suffered a strained groin on Christmas Day against Golden State.
Los Angeles now sits at the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. It isn't fun seeing the team struggle, but in the long run, James needs to be 100 percent healthy before the Lakers should put him back out on the floor.
The teams split a pair of earlier meetings, with each claiming a four-point decision at home.
Of course, part of the problem is that it isn't just James out of action for Los Angeles. Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr topscored for the Knicks with 22 points and 6 rebounds while Enes Kanter did damage on the inside, finishing the game with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Lakers then face James' former team, the Cavaliers, at home on January 13. NY entered with just nine wins on the season and mired in an eight-game losing streak.
Friday's game will mark the fifth that James has missed.
"Once shots didn't go in (in the fourth quarter), guys start trying to do it on their own", he told reporters. He isn't the only Laker dealing with an injury.
Butler had 32 and 24 points in the first two meetings, with the 32 coming in their 124-120 home win in October. Derrick Rose is also unlikely to play as he recovers from an injured right ankle.
The reigning Most Improved Player lifted the Pacers with 36 points, 4 assists and 7 rebounds while young big man Domantas Sabonis had a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds.
"Execute, play well defensively. The energy and the character and pure passion he brings to the game, for us, is contagious". The Lakers won 127-101.