If the San Antonio Spurs (10th) beat the Denver Nuggets and the Lakers – without an injured James – lose to the Phoenix Suns later today, the Lakers’ season will be officially over as they will be unable to overtake the Spurs for the final play-in spot.
The Spurs are currently leading the Nuggets.
If the Lakers fail to reach the postseason, it would mark only the fourth time since James entered the league in 2003 that he has not gone to the playoffs.
Elsewhere, Kyrie Irving drained 42 for the Nets and Joel Embiid 45 for the 76ers.
All that and more in our NBA Wrap!
BULLS WIN BERTH DESPITE LOSS
DeMar DeRozan went off for 40 points as his Bulls booked their play-offs berth – despite a 127-106 defeat to Milwaukee.
Brook Lopez had 28 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks, leading seven players who scored double-digits for Milwaukee.
Jrue Holiday added 13 assists to his 11 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Bucks shot 46 of 87 from the floor on an efficient night that ended a two-game slide.
RAPTORS STUN HOT HAWKS
The Raptors claimed a thrilling 118-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks to seal their own top-six seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks loss – their first in six games – means they will be locked in to the play-in tournament.
Pascal Siakam had 31 points and added 13 rebounds, while Scottie Barnes had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Raptors.
Chris Boucher (18), Gary Trent Jr. (14), Fred VanVleet (12) and Precious Achiuwa (11) all crossed double digits in the points column.
After a horror start saw the Raptors go 0-for-8 from three point range in the first quarter, they got on top in the middle stages and led 102-92 with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter.
But Atlanta hit back with a 10-0 run to level it at 102-apiece with 4:29 remaining, before taking the lead with just under three minutes to play. But a late surge from the Raptors saw off the fightback.
Atlanta (41-38) and Brooklyn now sit 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Cleveland.
NETS CLOSE IN ON SEVENTH
Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving drained 42 points including 17 in the final quarter as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Houston Rockets 118-105.
Kevin Durant added 18 points, while Andre Drummond had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
On the other end, Kevin Porter Jr scored a season-best 36 and Jalen Green added 30 points for the Rockets.
The Nets led by 21 late in the third, before Houston got hot with a 15-0 to cut the lead to six points at 90-84. Irving took control with the next eight points before Brooklyn cruised with a double-digit lead for the remainder.
The Nets were without Seth Curry, Goran Dragic, and James Johnson, while LaMarcus Aldridge played for the first time in a month. It meant Brooklyn fielded a brand-new starting five – the Nets’ 43rd different starting line-up in just 79 games (Durant, Brown, Drummond, Patty Mills, Irving).
Mo Bamba drained five-straight triples in the opening 10 minutes and finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Orlando Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-115.
Ignas Brazdeikis added 20 off the bench, while Moritz Wagner scored 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter for the Magic.
The Magic snapped a six-game losing streak with the win over the short-handed Cavaliers, who have now lost eight of 10.
With two regular-season games to play, the Cavs are desperate to hold onto seventh in the Eastern Conference and earn a home game to start the play-in tournament.
The Nets and Hawks are just 1 and a half games behind.
Thunder 98 d. Trail Blazers 94
Bucks 127 d. Bulls 106
76ers 131 d. Pacers 122
Magic 120 d. Cavaliers 115
Heat 144 d. Hornets 115
Raptors 118 d. Hawks 108
Nets 118 d. Rockets 105
Wizards 132 d. Timberwolves 114
MORE TO COME