Forward LeBron James scored 40 points in the Lakers’ 113-111 loss to the Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday in Denver. Ashley Landis/Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James questioned retirement after his Lakers were swept by the Denver Nuggets despite the highest-scoring postseason half of James’ matchless NBA career.

James set a personal record with 31 points in the first half of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night, but he missed two potential tying shots in the final minute as the Nuggets ended the Lakers’ season with a 113-111 victory.

The 38-year-old James finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and immense frustration after Los Angeles’ remarkable late-season surge ended with four consecutive defeats. Although the top scorer in NBA history spoke about himself as part of the Lakers next season, James also said he hasn’t made up his mind on retirement.

“We’ll see what happens going forward,” James said in the final answer of his postgame news conference. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve got a lot to think about, to be honest. Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.”

James is under contract for $46.9 million next season with the Lakers, but he is in charge of his future after surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record earlier this year. He hasn’t previously suggested much personal conflict about finishing his contract alongside Anthony Davis, and his play hasn’t significantly declined after two decades in the NBA – although his health has grown less sturdy, particularly in his balky feet and ankles.

“It’s all about availability for me and keeping my mind sharp, and things of that nature,” James said. “Being present on the floor, being present in the locker room and bus rides and plane rides, things of that nature. It’s challenging, for sure. It was a very challenging season for me, for our ballclub, and obviously we know whatever went on early on (in the Lakers’ 2-10 start to the season). It was cool, a pretty cool ride.”


In his NBA-record 282nd career playoff game, James dropped 21 points in a dynamic first quarter in Game 4. He added 10 more in the second while playing nearly the entire half of a do-or-die game against the top-seeded Nuggets.

But James had only nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in the second half, and he missed two chances to score in the final minute. He took a strange fallaway jumper that missed badly with 26 seconds left, and his final drive to the hoop was thwarted by Denver’s Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon at the buzzer.

HEAT: Miami’s Jimmy Butler was fined $25,000 by the NBA for not participating in required media availability after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Butler did not talk to reporters following the Heat’s 128-102 victory on Sunday that gave them a 3-0 lead over the Boston Celtics. The Heat can win the series and advance to the NBA Finals with a victory Tuesday night.

AWARDS: Golden State’s Stephen Curry was selected as this season’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion, the NBA announced.

The league will donate $100,000 on Curry’s behalf to the University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice. He is the third winner of the award, after Carmelo Anthony in 2021 and Reggie Bullock last year.

Curry’s off-court interests related to social justice are many. He’s a co-chair of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote” initiative, to help drive voter registration, education and turnout. He participated in the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition’s “Freedom to Vote” social media campaign to help advocate for the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act in the U.S. Senate.

And when the Warriors visited the White House this season to meet President Joe Biden and commemorate their 2022 NBA title, Curry met with the president to discuss issues of community safety.

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