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LeBron James injury update: Lakers star ruled out Thursday vs. Clippers, remains day-to-day with sore ankle

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While the Los Angeles Lakers managed to pick up an important win against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, the focus remains on LeBron James‘ health. The Lakers star was held out of that game with soreness in the same ankle that just caused him to miss 20 games. On Wednesday afternoon, Lakers coach Frank Vogel confirmed that James would be sidelined for Thursday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers and then be listed as day-to-day going forward.

Naturally, the Lakers want to be as careful with James’ injury as they can in order to make sure he is as healthy as possible entering postseason play, regardless of where Los Angeles winds up falling in the Western Conference’s pecking order. 

“Wherever we end up in the standings, we want him as healthy as possible going into the playoffs,” Vogel said Wednesday. 

In just his second game back after an extended absence, James was forced to leave the floor Sunday against the Toronto Raptors after experiencing soreness in his right ankle. The Lakers dropped both games that James played in since his return to action and with just seven games left on the schedule, every loss becomes more crucial for playoff positioning. L.A. currently sits in the sixth spot in the Western Conference, and they are one game ahead of the Blazers, who sit seventh.

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With LeBron’s status unknown going forward, it puts more pressure on a Lakers team that is trying to avoid the play-in tournament, which includes teams ranked Nos. 7-10 to finalize the last two playoff spots in each conference. 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 idea, but having to qualify via the play-in tournament is a real possibility for the Lakers now. 

In addition to not having LeBron for at least a couple more games going forward, the Lakers will also be without point guard Dennis Schroder, who is sidelined for 10-14 days due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Schroder kept the Lakers afloat during James’ and Anthony Davis‘ absence, and with him out until potentially the postseason, it will mean that the Lakers will need more from other role players on the team. How the Lakers fare over their upcoming stretch of games will go a long way toward determining where they finish in the postseason picture, and now they won’t have their best player for at least a pair of them. 

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