Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, shown March 3, 2022, averaged 30.3 points per game this season. File Photo by Caroline Brehman/EPA-EFE
April 8 (UPI) -- All-Star forward LeBron James won't play in the Los Angeles Lakers' final two games of the regular season because of his left ankle sprain, the team announced Friday.
The Lakers, who were eliminated from NBA Play-In Tournament contention after their loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, are scheduled to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday before ending the season on the road against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
James has already missed five of the Lakers' last six games since injuring his ankle against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 27.
The 37-year-old James ends the 2021-22 season averaging 30.3 points per game -- currently second in the league behind Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid (30.4). James, however, cannot claim the scoring title because he appeared in just 56 games; a player must play at least 58 games to be eligible for the honor.
James' scoring average was his highest since his third season in the league when he averaged 31.4 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The scoring average also was the most ever for a player in his 19th season.
James took to social media to thank fans and confirm that he'll return for the 2022-23 campaign.
The Lakers posted a 25-31 record in games in which James played, marking the first time since his rookie year with the Cavaliers that his team finished below .500 when he was active.
It is the second time in James' four seasons with the Lakers that he ended the season out of the lineup due to an injury while the team failed to make the playoffs.