LeBron James will miss his second consecutive game with a sprained ankle on Tuesday when the Lakers take on the Suns in Phoenix, the team announced. James did not play in Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets and has only played once in the last five games, Tuesday’s included, as the Lakers continue to fall out of play-in game contention.
James suffered a sprained ankle in the team’s loss to the Pelicans on Sunday, March 27, but finished the game and scored 39 points. He did not play in the team’s games against Dallas or Utah, both losses, before returning on Friday to play the Pelicans once again. James scored 38 points in another loss.
But since that game, James has not returned to the court, with Tuesday being the 23rd game he’ll miss this season. In total, James has played just twice since scoring 38 points and ending Kevin Love’s career in a win in Cleveland, with both those appearances coming against New Orleans.
On top of the Lakers falling out of the play-in game, James is also running up against the clock to potentially win the scoring title. As it stands, James needs to play two more games to qualify for the scoring title. Currently, James’ 30.3 points per game would lead the league in scoring, should he play the 58 games and maintain or improve that average.
If James does not play two more games, he could still win the scoring title if his points total averaged out over 58 games would still lead the league. Currently, in this scenario, it would mean James would have to score 1,752 points on the year which, divided by 58 games, would still be more than Joel Embiid’s current average of 30.2 points.
It could create a fascinating scenario in which James plays just one more game — perhaps against Oklahoma City on Friday — this year, but would need to score 57 points to reach that 1,752 mark. The number needed could change depending on how Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo finish their respective seasons, but it is possible for James to play just one more game, have one more massive scoring outburst, and win the scoring title.
For now, with the Lakers all but officially eliminated from the play-in game, James’ chase of the scoring title is the one fascinating thing left to track this season. But only if he’s actually able to get back onto the court.
The Lakers and Suns tip off on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV, and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.