NBA: Injured LeBron James to miss another game as Lakers chase playoffs
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers’ desperate push for a spot in the NBA play-in tournament will continue Thursday in Utah with LeBron James sidelined for a second straight game with a sprained ankle.
James was hurt in the first half of the Lakers’ loss in New Orleans on Sunday and didn’t play in the team’s embarrassing defeat to the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday.
That defeat — in which the Lakers conceded 82 first-half points to the Luka Doncic-led Mavericks — left Los Angeles outside the top-10 in the Western Conference standings with seven regular-season games remaining.
The top six advance directly to the playoffs while the seventh- through 10th-placed teams will battle in the play-in for two remaining berths.
The Lakers’ 31-44 record matches that of San Antonio, but the Spurs hold the tiebreaker advantage.
The Spurs launched a three-game homestand on Wednesday when they hosted Memphis.
In addition to listing James as “out” for Thursday on the injury report, the Lakers also listed star Anthony Davis as “doubtful.”
But ESPN was among the media outlets reporting Davis, who has been sidelined since February 16 with a foot injury, could return for Friday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
In the meantime the Lakers are struggling, with coach Frank Vogel saying after the loss in Dallas that the team was lacking in “toughness, IQ, intelligence, focus and fight.”
The tension was obvious when Russell Westbrook snapped at a reporter’s post-game question on how the Lakers should respond to falling out of post-season position.
“What do you think should change?” Westbrook said and when the reporter suggested “winning” added: “You got an answer to winning?”