LeBron James is expected to be sidelined for pivotal back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers to rest his injured right ankle, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Lakers currently cling to fifth place and an automatic playoff berth, sitting a half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks and one game in front of the seventh-placed Blazers. The winner of Friday's contest in Portland will hold the tiebreaker.
James, 36, returned from a career-long 20-game absence due to a sprained right ankle to feature in defeats against the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors. James exited Sunday's home loss versus the Raptors with 6:42 remaining in the fourth quarter after aggravating the injury and was forced to miss Monday's meeting with the Denver Nuggets.
The 17-time All-Star is reportedly experiencing discomfort in the ankle, which has hindered his explosiveness and ability to make hard cuts, Wojnarowski reports.
L.A. has lost six of its last eight and will look to avoid dropping into the play-in round contested between the teams finishing seventh through 10th.
James recently criticized the play-in tournament, saying, "Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired."