LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, sat out the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Seattle SuperSonics on Monday night because of a sprained left ankle.

``At the shootaround today, he said it still bothers him,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, adding he wasn't concerned about the injury.

O'Neal, averaging 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds, arrived at Staples Center nearly 90 minutes before tipoff, and refused to speak with reporters before entering the trainer's room for treatment.

Shortly later, he issued a statement saying, ''(Trainer Gary) Vitti's doing a great job. The ankle's making progress, and it feels better. I hope to play Friday.''

The Lakers play their next game that night against Sacramento.

O'Neal, a virtual lock for his first Most Valuable Player award, sprained his ankle in the first half of last Wednesday night's 111-104 victory at Golden State, but continued to play and scored 49 points.

The ankle began bothering him the following day; X-rays were taken Friday that showed no damage, and he watched from the bench Saturday night as the Lakers lost 98-80 to San Antonio.

That loss snapped an 11-game winning streak, and was just the second in 32 games for the Lakers, who have already clinched homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

The game with Seattle was a possible first-round playoff matchup, since the Sonics entered the game in eighth place in the Western Conference. The playoffs start April 22.

After facing Sacramento, the Lakers play Minnesota on Sunday in their final home game, and complete the season with games at Dallas on April 18 and San Antonio the following night.