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LeBron says he won't sit out games down stretch

With Monday night’s home loss, the Los Angeles Lakers’ fading playoff hopes got a little more dim. The 113-105 loss to the crosstown LA Clippers dropped the Lakers to 30-34, putting them 5 1/2 games behind the No. 8-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

Even as it looks like the playoff deck is stacked against the Lakers, though, star forward LeBron James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin he has no intention of sitting out games to close out this season.

“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach as well as other key figures such as GM Rob Pelinka, team president Magic Johnson and governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.

“That conversation hasn’t occurred, but I’m sure it can happen soon,” James told ESPN.

James missed 18 games — a stretch spanning from Christmas Day to Jan. 31 — because of a left groin strain. The Lakers beat the Clippers on Jan. 31 and stood at 27-25, which put them No. 9 in the West and well within striking distance of the conference’s lower playoff seeds. Since then, the Lakers have gone 3-9 — a stretch that includes their current three-game losing streak and losses in five of their last six games overall.

Last night, James had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 42 minutes. After the game, he admitted that monitoring his playing time — if not resting completely — could be a possibility moving forward.

“You kind of look at the rest of the games, and look at the percentages of what’s going on there in the future, and see what makes more sense for not only me but the team itself as well,” James said.

James is closing in on Michael Jordan for No. 4 on the all-time scoring list and needs 13 points to pass him. The Lakers’ next game is Wednesday, when they host the West’s current No. 2 seed, the Denver Nuggets (10:30 ET, ESPN).

‘You keep playing to the end and see what happens,” James said. ”I’ve been talking about it for a while now. Everyone has been talking about the postseason, (but) we should be worried about each and every game and how we can continue to get better with our process and get better with our team.”

Two days after an embarrassing road loss to NBA-worst Phoenix put a huge dent in their playoff chances, the Lakers played without forward Brandon Ingram, who developed right shoulder soreness after the morning shootaround. Ingram had played in 50 straight games, averaging 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in a strong first season alongside James.

Lonzo Ball was already out with his long-term ankle injury, leaving James without his two most important teammates. Kyle Kuzma then scored 13 points before he limped off the floor with an apparent ankle injury with 6:04 to play, and coach Luke Walton said he ”would be surprised” if Kuzma’s injury doesn’t force him to miss the Lakers’ next game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.