NBA: LeBron (ankle) out Monday, as reeling Lakers host Nuggets

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 04 2021 04:52 AM

With the team scratching to reach the postseason, LeBron James and the Lakers face four sets of back-to-back games over the next two weeks to finish the schedule. Robert Hanashiro, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will sit out Monday's game against the Denver Nuggets after re-aggravating an injury to his right ankle, multiple outlets reported.

James sprained the ankle during a game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20 and missed the next 20 games. He returned to action Friday and played in the weekend losses at home to the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors.

Monday is the second half of a back-to-back for Los Angeles after Sunday night's 121-114 loss to Toronto. James left the game with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter due to what the Lakers called a sore ankle.

The Lakers have lost six of their last seven and entered Monday in a 3-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. All three teams are 36-28 with eight games to play.

This season, the top six teams in each conference make the standard playoff bracket, while the seventh- through 10th-place teams will compete in a play-in tournament for the final seeds.

"His ankle is battling some soreness," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "We decided not to bring him back."

James said the ankle tightened on him at halftime in both games, and he and his coach were in a wait-and-see mode as to whether the four-time league MVP could play against Denver.

"The plan is to see how I feel and go from there," James said.

With the defending champion Lakers now in danger of dropping out of the top six in the West, James ripped the playoff format after Sunday's loss.

"Whoever came up with that s-- needs to be fired," he said.

James, 36, is averaging 25.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists in 43 games this season, his 18th in the league.

Playing in the second of back-to-back games at home at Staples Center, the Lakers host a Nuggets team that is riding a five-game winning streak -- the longest active winning streak in the NBA -- and has won nine of the past 10 games.

Denver (43-21) is a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (43-22) for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

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