LeBron James to miss Lakers' final 2 games with ankle injury

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Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James sits on the bench during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James will miss the final two games of the Los Angeles Lakers' season with a sprained left ankle, almost certainly preventing him from winning his second NBA scoring title.

The Lakers made the announcement Friday before they hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder. Los Angeles' disappointing season ends Sunday at Denver.

The 37-year-old James averaged 30.3 points this season while playing in only 56 games, two shy of the minimum to qualify for the scoring title with his full points-per-game average. The second-leading scorer in NBA history has played in only one game since spraining his ankle March 27, scoring 38 points in a crushing home loss to New Orleans on April 1.

James is slightly behind Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, who is averaging 30.4 points per game in one of the closest scoring title races in NBA history. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo is third at 29.9 points per game.

James is a four-time league MVP with four championship rings, but he won his only scoring title back in 2008 with Cleveland. The 18-time All-Star was attempting to become the oldest scoring champion in NBA history by surpassing Michael Jordan, who was 35 when he won his final title.

James passed Karl Malone for second place on the NBA’s career scoring list on March 19. With 37,062 points, he trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his 38,387 points for the top spot in league history.

James also averaged 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his 19th season. He will make nearly $44.5 million next season in the final year of his contract with the Lakers.

Although he has racked up impressive stats while defying his age, James will miss the playoffs for only the second time since 2005 because of the Lakers' major struggles in the second half of the season. He missed the postseason in his first season with the Lakers in 2018-19.

Los Angeles (31-49) has lost eight consecutive games and is 10-30 since Jan. 7. Anthony Davis returned to the lineup April 1 after missing six weeks with the latest in his long series of injuries over the past two seasons after the Lakers won their franchise's 17th championship in the Florida bubble.

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