With a blockbuster Christmas matchup on the horizon, Lakers star LeBron James won’t play against the Denver Nuggets, the team announced hours before Sunday’s game. The forward was listed as “doubtful” because of a thoracic muscle strain, an injury he suffered against Indiana on Dec. 17 and played through during the Lakers’ 111-104 loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 19.
James, who is averaging 25.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and a league-high 10.6 assists in his 16th year in the NBA, hasn’t missed a game this year, but did not participate in the team’s pregame workout Sunday, coach Frank Vogel said.
“We’re a next-man-up team, but this is not one guy has to step up and fill his shoes,” Vogel said. “It’s gotta be a team effort, everybody’s gotta be aggressive, we gotta make sure the ball is moving side to side.”
The Lakers (24-5) are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season after dropping games at Indiana and Milwaukee. The team has a marquee matchup Wednesday against the Clippers at Staples Center at 5 p.m. hoping to avenge a season-opening loss to their in-town rival.
Forward Kyle Kuzma, returning from an ankle sprain, will play Sunday against the Nuggets with a roughly 20-minute time restriction.