Troy Pierce | January 5th, 2019
Injuries have hampered the Lakers in recent weeks with several players missing multiple games due to injury this year. Kyle Kuzma is the most recent victim of the “injury bug”.
The Scorers Down
Kuzma left Wednesday’s contest against the Thunder after playing 16 minutes and minimal contribution (4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3 steals). Kuzma had an MRI earlier this week and has been diagnosed with a lower back contusion. Kuzma was listed as questionable for Friday’s game against New York but did not end up playing.
If Kuzma misses extended time Los Angeles will have to find other ways to score the ball as Kuzma is the second leading scorer (18.3 ppg) for the Lakers. Only LeBron James averages more points per contest (27.3) for the Lakers but he has also missed some time due to injury.
LeBron James exited the Lakers Christmas Day game against Golden State with a groin injury. When James left the game the Lakers held a 14-point advantage and would go on to win the game 127-101. In the four subsequent games, James has missed the Lakers have gone 1-3 with their only victory coming against Sacramento. On January 4th it was reported that James would not travel with the team for their two-game road trip it would be re-evaluated on January 11th. The Lakers will on the road against Utah January 11th. This would likely be James’ first game back with the team.
Who is Going to Step Up?
Rajon Rondo sustained a fractured right hand December 14th against Portland, an injury which kept him out of action until December 21st. In his return, Rondo posted 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists while going 3-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 at the free throw line. Los Angeles would beat New Orleans 112-104.
Rondo also sustained an injury to his right ring finger on Christmas Day, an injury which the team has said is unrelated to his previous injury. Rondo had surgery done on the finger December 28th and is expected to miss the next 4-5 weeks.
Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are likely to benefit the most from their teammates’ injuries. Lonzo will assume extra duties at point guard with Rondo and James out. Ingram will likely see more opportunities on the offensive end with James out for the next few games and the possibility of Kuzma missing extended time.
Los Angeles’ standing in the West could be affected if the Lakers cannot get steady contribution from other areas with several key players out.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images