LeBron James injury update: Lakers star has setback with ankle sprain, out Monday vs. Nuggets, per report

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling, and things are only getting worse as LeBron James will sit out against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night after aggravating his right ankle injury, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. James, who recently returned after missing 20 games due to a high-ankle sprain, was forced to exit against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night and was held out for the final six minutes after experiencing soreness in the ankle. James’ status for L.A.’s next game against the Clippers on Thursday night is not known at this point. 

The Lakers have lost three straight, and six of their previous seven games heading into Monday night, and now beating Denver without James will be a tough task. They’ll also be without starting point guard Dennis Schroder, who’s reportedly out 10-14 days due to the league’s health and safety protocols. 

The Lakers have an extremely tough stretch of games coming up, beginning with the Nuggets. After that they’ll play the Clippers on Thursday night, the top-seeded Suns on Sunday and then host the Knicks next Tuesday. How they fare over that stretch will go a long way toward determining where they finish in the postseason picture. Thus, they’re obviously hoping that James won’t have to miss any other games. 

L.A. is currently in the midst of a tight battle for postseason positioning in the Western Conference. As it currently stands, the Lakers are in a three-way tie for the fifth seed with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. With the way the standings are currently constructed, two of those teams will finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in seeding, and earn automatic playoff berths. The other team will finish seventh and in turn have to participate in the NBA‘s play-in tournament. As the defending champions, the Lakers would obviously like to avoid the play-in tournament and the extra game(s) that comes with it. 

James has already expressed his distaste for the tournament after Sunday night’s loss, stating that whoever came up with the idea should be fired. “That’s wack,” James said of the play-in tournament. “You’ve got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny.” James may not like the play-in tournament, but having to play in it is a real possibility for the Lakers now. 

Ultimately, though, James’ health is the most important factor for the Lakers when it comes to postseason play, so it makes sense that James would rest if his ankle wasn’t feeling right. At this point, the Lakers just have to hope that James, Schroder and the rest of the squad will be good to go when the playoffs — or play-in tournament — start in a couple weeks, regardless of where they finish in the standings. 

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