Lonzo Ball dribbles at practice at the UCLA Health Training Center on Feb. 22, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Ball Questionable to Return Friday

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Five weeks since his last game, Lonzo Ball may finally be ready to return to the Lakers’ lineup.

Ball — who has a sprained left MCL — was a full participant at Thursday’s practice and is considered questionable for Friday’s game against Dallas.

“If it was up to me, I’d be playing,” Ball said. “But like I said, I’ve got to get the clearance from (the medical staff).”

According to coach Luke Walton, Ball didn’t seem to favor one leg or the other at practice.

Ball is still fighting through some pain and soreness, but maintains that he is ready to go.

For him, the biggest challenge will be getting his conditioning back to normal, as he prefers to play a full-speed style of game.

“I’m not 100 (percent), but I feel I can definitely play,” Ball said. “I don’t think it’s gonna get any worse for me playing.”

While Ball has been out, the Lakers traded for two-time All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Though they play the same position, both men think that their skill sets make for a good match.

“Opposites attract,” Ball said. “I like to pass, he likes to shoot. I think it’ll work well.”

Ball and Thomas have already gotten to know each other, working out together when the team returned from its road trip to Dallas a couple weeks ago.

“We both have high IQs,” Thomas said. “And at the same time I can play off the ball, he can play off the ball. We’re just gonna figure out on the fly.”

Ball — who averages 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists — has been the pilot of the Lakers’ offense when healthy.

But the 6-foot-6 point guard has also been key to the team’s defense, which has been the root of their three-game losing streak.

During L.A.’s 12-4 stretch that preceded this slide, the Lakers were third in the entire NBA in defensive rating. Over the last three games, they are last.

Yet Walton does not want his other players reliant on Ball coming in and fixing everything on that end of the court.

“He’ll be a big part of it, but that’s not an excuse for us,” Walton said. “Our defense when he was out got really good, too.

“He has been great for us on that end and he will help us, but I don’t want our guys looking at it like: ‘Oh, as soon as Zo is back, we’ll be fine defensively.’”

Frye Out
Big man Channing Frye underwent an appendectomy over the All-Star break, and will not play in the Lakers' next five games.

The 12-year veteran has played just one game since being traded to L.A. At least he is keeping in high spirits while he recovers from the operation.

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