The Los Angeles Lakers are fighting for their playoff lives with just two weeks left in the regular season. After tumbling down the standings amid injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the defending champs are running out of time to right the ship.

Both James and Davis are back in the starting lineup, although James left in the second half Sunday night due to ankle soreness. The Toronto Raptors defeated Los Angeles 121-114 at Staples Center Sunday night, putting the Lakers on the edge of the playoff picture.

As the current No. 6 seed in the West, the Lakers share the same record as the No. 7 seed Portland Trail Blazers. Los Angeles currently owns the tiebreaker over Portland. That could change when the two teams are scheduled to play Thursday.

It will be a pivotal showdown as the top six seeds in each conference will head straight to the postseason. Teams seeded No. 7-10 must earn the final two playoff berths in a short-play in tournament after the regular season.

The NBA’s new play-in tournament will feature a matchup between the No. 7 and No. 8 seed in addition to a game between the No. 9 and No. 10 seed. The winner of the 7-8 matchup clinches a playoff spot. The loser of the game faces off with the 9-10 winner with the final postseason berth on the line.

It’s a concept that doesn’t sit well with James. Under the old format, the Lakers would be well on their way to the playoffs with a comfortable four-game lead over the No. 9 seed Golden State Warriors.

“Whoever came up with that (expletive) needs to be fired,” James told reporters after Sunday’s loss.

Sunday marked James’ second game since returning from a high ankle sprain that he suffered March 20 and forced him to miss 20 straight games. The Lakers have lost both contests with the reigning NBA Finals MVP back in the lineup after James missed Sunday’s fourth quarter with ankle soreness.

“I definitely want to get healthy. Not only for myself, but for our team,” James said. “I need to make sure my ankle is where it was before the injury. I've got to be smart with it.”

Davis made his return from a calf injury and Achilles tendinosis on April 22 after missing more than two months of action. The Lakers have gone 1-5 since Davis came back to slip to 36-28 overall.

Los Angeles hosts the Denver Nuggets and MVP favorites Nikola Jokic on Monday night. The Lakers have eight games left on the regular-season schedule. Three of their next four opponents have a top-four record in the West.

A lot has changed since Davis got hurt on Valentine’s Day. Los Angeles entered that night’s contest as the West’s No. 2 seed with a 21-6 record. James was a top MVP candidate and the Lakers were the clear favorites to get back to the NBA Finals.

With a 15-20 record since and health concerns to both superstars, the Lakers are no guarantee to reach the postseason.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers r
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images | Kevork Djansezian