Bresnahan: No End In Sight
The medical updates keep popping up on the Lakers' Twitter feed, seemingly no end in sight to the sprains, strains and broken bones that have wrapped themselves around a team trying to make playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Just when it appeared the injury news was getting more favorable, another sad timetable was announced by the Lakers.
Lonzo Ball will miss four to six weeks because of a severely sprained left ankle, a setback in many ways.
He was showing consistency in recent games with his confidence flowing, his passing touch as strong as ever and — what's this? — a floater starting to drop into his game.
Don't tell anybody, but he just might have outplayed Russell Westbrook in the Lakers' surprising 138-128 upset of Oklahoma City last week.
But then he drove down the left side in the third quarter Saturday against Houston. The replays were grisly as he buckled in front of James Ennis III.
Ball was carried off the court by Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson, his night over with eight points and 11 assists in only 22 minutes.
He almost certainly would have passed his career-high in assists (13) and the Lakers likely would have beat Houston for a second consecutive eye-opening road win. As it was, they narrowly lost in overtime after a series of self-inflicted wounds that could have been avoided with Ball on the court.
All the “ifs” were quickly forgotten a day later when the Lakers announced that Ball could be out until March. Their regular season ends April 9.
A solid goal back in October would have been finishing among the top four teams in the Western Conference. You know, host a first-round playoff series, get the fan base fully immersed and see what happens in the ridiculously competitive conference.
It all looked like a distinct possibility after the Lakers moved into fourth place on Christmas Day after beating Golden State by 26.
Yes, 26. Against Golden State. On the road.
But in that same game, Rajon Rondo and LeBron James were lost because of injuries.
They're expected to start practicing this week, finally some good injury headlines in a season teeming with way too many of the bad type.
James (strained groin) was sorely needed in losses to Cleveland and New York, two of the NBA's worst teams. The Lakers have plummeted in the offensive ratings without him.
Rondo will be eagerly welcomed back too despite playing only 14 games this season.
He has been hit by two separate injuries to his right hand — a fracture in November and a torn ligament in the ring finger last month.
His numbers haven't been especially noteworthy (8.4 points and 6.7 assists a game) but his playing time hasn't exactly been off the charts. His 24.4 minutes a game are his fewest since his rookie season back in 2006-07.
Rondo, who turns 33 next month, has received praise for his leadership skills this season. It's common to see him talk strategy with teammates on the bench during timeouts. He travels to road games to remain a presence in the locker room.
Now he'll need to bring it on the court.
In case there's any question, he averaged 10.3 points 12.2 assists in nine playoff games last season with New Orleans. The assists were the highest average of any player in last year's postseason.
It's only January but a call needs to be sent out out for “Playoff Rondo.” The Lakers need him more than ever without their 21-year-old point guard.