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Injuries Continue to Derail Lakers
There are myriad reasons why L.A.’s season has derailed to the point of their 10th place standing in the West, 4.5 games back of the No. 8 seed, with only 18 games to play. The biggest reason is pretty obvious: injuries.
We learned after Tuesday’s practice that Kyle Kuzma (sprained ankle) has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Denver, while Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Tyson Chandler (neck) and Lance Stephenson (toe) are all questionable. Luke Walton also held LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Josh Hart out of practice, though more for rest purposes after each carried a heavy load in Monday’s loss to the Clippers.
Kuzma’s injury came in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to the Clippers at Staples Center, when he rolled his right ankle and subsequently limped off the floor.
Ingram, who missed eight games in December (ankle) and four in October (suspension) before finding a terrific offensive groove after the All-Star break, came out of the weekend losses against Milwaukee and Phoenix with a sore shoulder that forced him out of Monday’s loss to the Clippers. That was, perhaps more than any game this season, a “must win” for the Lakers considering that the Clippers now own the tiebreaker* even if the Lakers managed to erase a 5-game deficit in the standings.
*Even if the Lakers win the fourth matchup between the squads, L.A. would have the tiebreaker, which after H2H goes to Division record.
Most notable on the season-long injury front was, of course, the strained groin that shelved LeBron James for 18 games in the middle of the season. With the competition level out West, any team – perhaps aside from Golden State – missing its best player for an extended time was going to take a real hit. From that point, cracks in the facade have continued, most notably through Lonzo Ball’s ankle injury. Suffered on Jan. 19, Ball has missed 17 games and counting.
Ball was seen getting some shots up after practice, but they were more of the set shot variety, with limited jumping, in drills conducted by a member of the team’s strength staff. He has yet to practice with the team, and is awaiting re-evaluation by doctors at the end of the week.
Lonzo Ball continues to work with the strength and athletic training staffs trying to get back from his ankle injury. He’s yet to do anything on the court with the team, though is currently doing some light shooting (but not really jumping): pic.twitter.com/1zSK8CLcsH— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 5, 2019
All teams suffer injuries throughout the 82-game campaign, but it’s been unfortunate for the Lakers to lose what could be argued to be their best four players for varying portions of the season.
“Guys are upset about losing and where we’re at, but as we try to continue to build things, you have to be resilient with who you are and who we are as a group,” said Walton. “It’s tough times right now, and we can’t let that get us down. We have to continue to develop our habits, continue to work as a group and define how we handle ourselves in tough times.”