Huertas, Russell Nearing Returns
What the Lakers have lacked the most in their first three preseason games has been playmaking from the point guard position, but that’s no surprise, given the minor injuries to D’Angelo Russell (sore glute) and Marcelo Huertas (hamstring strain).
The Brazilian veteran has yet to play in a game, while Russell missed nearly all of the second game in Hawaii in addition to Thursday’s contest in Ontario.
Will the Lakers get a point guard back for Sunday’s contest against Israeli power Maccabi Haifa?
“We’ll see,” said coach Byron Scott. “I’ll talk to Gary Vitti and see how (Russell and Huertas) feels tomorrow (after) a regular shootaround day, so we’ll get up and down the floor and see how (they) reacts to that … Right now I’d say doubtful, but tomorrow we’ll go through our regular routine as far as getting ready for the game and see how those guys feel.”
Backup forward Brandon Bass (knee contusion) is also listed as doubtful, though he said after Thursday’s game that he’s OK and could probably play if it were a regular season game.
Saturday’s practice was a light one, mostly featuring shooting drills, so neither player was tested. Scott’s already seen promise in Russell’s playmaking abilities in game action, and remains intrigued by what Huertas did in the first week of training camp.
“Very curious, because I thought he was great in practice,” said Scott. “In the scrimmages we had he was very good; the guys he was playing with seemed to enjoy playing with him because he’s a true point guard that look to pass that ball.”
“It’s better, not 100 percent still, but there’s a chance I’ll play tomorrow,” said Huertas. “It doesn’t hurt at all … just (don’t) want to force it and be out for a few weeks.”
Scott is more focused on his own players than on Sunday’s opponent, Israeli squad Maccabi Haifa, whom he said he doesn’t know much about.
“I’m still trying to look at (our) players,” Scott continued. “Our scouts know Maccabi pretty well, so we’ll go over their tendencies tomorrow, but right now I’m more focused on us than anybody else.”
Huertas discussed the difference between teams like Maccabi Haifa and his team of the last several years, Spain’s F.C. Barcelona, and the NBA.
“Basketball is a little different from what I’ve been used to my whole career playing overseas,” said Huertas. “It’s much more physical, explosive, aggressive. Players are faster, super talented (with) ability to score; everyone is able to put numbers on the scoreboard. In Europe, everything is much more settled down and organized. You take care of the ball really well and try to play within a system.”
Can Huertas use some of that international experience to help Russell?
“I think he can help him from a maturity standpoint and just experience alone,” said Scott. “D’Angelo has a lot of guys that can help him: Marcelo, obviously KB is the guy who’s really taken him under his wing, and then JC (Jordan Clarkson), who has gone through it as well last year as a rookie and can give him some understanding of how difficult it is as a rookie in this league.”
In short, it may not be on Sunday that L.A.’s two point guards get back to action, but they’ll be back on the floor soon.
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