After spraining his ankle against the Pelicans on Sunday, LeBron James will be listed as doubtful by the Lakers ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks.
James badly sprained the ankle early on against New Orleans, and noted that it felt “horrible” after the game. That didn’t stop him from pouring in a game-high 39 points, though that wasn’t enough to stop the Lakers from their most incredible second-half collapse yet.
On Monday, Vogel said James had swelling in his ankle, predictable given how ugly the injury looked. It also makes his 39-point performance, a good chunk of that scoring coming after the injury, look all the more incredible.
With games ticking down rapidly before the end of the season and the Lakers in dire need of victories, James’ likely absence in Dallas is a huge blow. While Anthony Davis is continuing to trend in the right direction through his own injury, neither are likely to be available against the Mavericks on Tuesday with both listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report.
James has battled injuries throughout the season, ranging from an ankle sprain early in the year to an abdominal strain to managing his left knee and now another ankle sprain, a host of maladies that have chipped away at his availability bit-by-bit this year.
Unfortunately, it’s one of the overarching tales of the Lakers season, with injuries preventing the Lakers Big Three from seeing any real, consistent minutes together. It was already set to be a race against time for Davis to be back before season’s end and LeBron’s injury will only add more pressure on that ticking clock.
A best-case scenario at this point feels like James and Davis only playing together for a handful of games in the final weeks of the season. At that point, both will need to hit the ground running for the Lakers to see any benefits of having the pair available, and even then it might be too late for any of it to matter this season.
It’s another blow in a season that has long felt doomed through injury and disappointing performances. Short of LeBron healing like Wolverine, this might be the final death knell.