Archives For injury

Well, it never stops for the Lakers. This season has been tough because of the myriad of injuries the Lakers have been getting. Add another one to the list.

The Lakers’ latest press release has Jordan Farmar out for a minimum of four weeks.

EL SEGUNDO – Lakers guard Jordan Farmar had an ultrasound test and was examined by Dr. Luga Podesta this morning after injuring his left hamstring in last night’s game versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Results show that Farmar has a tear in his left hamstring, which is expected to keep him out a minimum of four weeks.

Farmar left Tuesday’s game early due to some “tightness” on his hamstring. Now we know why.

This leaves Kendall Marshall, who was just acquired a couple of weeks ago because of the ridiculous number of injuries the team has received, as the only point guard left on the roster. Even Xavier Henry, who was a swingman playing the back-up point guard role, is out for at least the next week because of a knee injury. It looks like Marshall will play extended minutes until one of the point guards return. Steve Blake is due to be back in a few weeks from that elbow injury. Kobe Bryant, who played point guard in his short healthy stint this season, is out for a month or so. And we all have no idea when Steve Nash is coming back.

Regardless, this is just painful. All the injuries racked up has made this Laker season even tougher to watch. Farmar wasn’t exactly the savior of this franchise; the Lakers just wanted someone who can actually play point guard. And once again, we’re down to one. At least, it’s better than having NO point guards?

Farmar is averaging 8.7 points and 4.7 assists in the 22 games he has played this season. Get well soon, Jordan.

For nearly a week now, Pau Gasol has been dealing with an upper respiratory infection. It kept him out of the game against the Warriors this past Saturday and had him looking quite sluggish in losses to the Suns (Monday) and Heat (Wednesday). Today he saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist, missed practice, and may not play Friday against the Jazz. From ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin on twitter:

McMenamin clarified that the big Spaniard is listed as “day to day” (aren’t we all?) and that he theoretically could still travel to Utah tomorrow and play against the Jazz. That, however, is very unlikely and we might as well get used to the idea that Chris Kaman will start and that Hill and Sacre will see the majority of the back up minutes at the Center position.

I know Pau has not been at his best this year, but this illness really does come on the heels of one of his better stretches of the season. Before the aforementioned three games where he either didn’t play or played poorly, Pau had a six gam stretch where he shot above 50% in all but one game including back to back 21 point efforts in wins over the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. After finally looking healthy after the ankle sprain he suffered a couple of weeks back, he really was playing well (at least offensively) and was starting to show flashes of his old self. Now, however, he’s back on the shelf with an chest infection that is clearly affecting his endurance and his activity level on the floor.

How long Pau sits out is an unknown, but I’d honestly prefer he be completely healthy before he returns to the lineup. When he’s not at his best physically — especially when it’s related to an illness that affects his endurance — he can be quite the liability defensively (even more than usual) as he’s a beat slow rotating in the half court and can lag behind the play several steps in transition. Further, he’s not nearly as active as he needs to be on the glass and that compromises the full integrity of what the team wants to do on that side of the ball. I’d prefer the team just play Hill, Kaman, and Sacre and let them provide all they can until Pau can rejoin the lineup and play at his best.

Finally, some good news.

Per the Lakers’ twitter account, Jordan Farmar’s latest ultrasound showed a completely healed hamstring. Thus, he’s been cleared to return to action and should see his first action since Dec. 1 when the Lakers take on the 2-time defending champion Miami Heat on Christmas Day.

While the Lakers would surely like to slowly integrate Farmar back into the rotation, the current lack of healthy point guards makes that impossible. With Steve Nash and Steve Blake still nursing their respective injuries, Farmar will have to carry an intense load the minute he steps back on the floor. Expect him to start tomorrow and every game until the Steves return, and to see an increase in minutes for the 27 year old who’s averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists on 43.8% shooting.

The Lakers are still facing a giant challenge tomorrow in the Heat, who come into tomorrow’s contest at 21-6 and winners of 5 straight. It will be a challenge to hang with the champs, who seem to have found their stride, but having at least one healthy point guard should help the Lakers run their offensive sets with a bit more fluidity.

Right when it seemed the Lakers might turn a corner with a nice road win over the Grizzlies, their injury woes come back to drag them back down. Already missing all their point guards, the team will now be without Kobe Bryant for at least 6 weeks, per an announcement from the team:

It’s really difficult to put into words the frustration and disappointment I feel with this news. Kobe has battled for over 8 months to return from one of the most brutal injuries a basketball player could sustain and had only returned 6 games ago. He’s had his up and down moments, but the game against the Grizzlies showed a nice step forward in his progress showing he could play well in extended minutes and on short rest (that was the team’s 4th game in 5 nights). Now, he’s lost again for at least another month and a half, set to have to rehab the same left leg he suffered the ruptured achilles on.

Normally, I’d try to find some sort of silver lining and speak to what the team can do to adjust without Kobe in the lineup. This won’t be one of those times. Because while one might say the team can go back to playing the style they were before Kobe’s return, that really isn’t possible since the team doesn’t have a player to step in and initiate the offense the way that Blake and Farmar were in Kobe’s absence. What will happen instead is the team trying to fill the void with a committee approach to initiating the offense with Xavier Henry, Nick Young, and Jodie Meeks likely taking turns as the primary ball handler to start the team’s offense. This approach was already suspect for short stretches in games, but now that it’s default for entire contests, the results will be dodgy at best.

Hopefully Jordan Farmar can return in a week and at least have some sort of PG available soon, but if that doesn’t happen I don’t see how the team can’t turn to the D-League or look to street free agents as a stopgap option until Farmar is back.

The Lakers announced today that Jordan Farmar will miss at least 4 weeks with a torn hamstring. The reserve point guard commented after the game that he’d experienced tightness in the muscle the last few days and knew he had a problem when he pulled up lame in the 2nd quarter. Well, Farmar’s problem is now the Lakers’ as the point guard is on the shelf and the team is left scrambling for answers.

Before we explore those, however, it’s important to note that losing Farmar is quite the blow to the Lakers. As I mentioned on twitter the other night, Farmar has been one of the Lakers’ better performers recently, putting up some staggeringly good shooting numbers while being a catalyst for some of their best performing lineups. On the season, Farmar is posting a very good PER of 17.8 (good for 2nd on the team) and, after a negative blip in his production a couple of weeks ago, has probably been the team’s best and most consistent performer offensively.

Farmar has also had a very good impact on the defensive side of the ball, holding opposing PG’s to a PER of 8.2 when he’s on the floor. Not to mention, as a team the Lakers boast a defensive efficiency of 96.7 when Farmar is in the game versus a 106.6 when he’s on the bench. This net defensive rating of 9.9 is the best of any of the team’s main rotation players and speaks to the fact that when he is on the floor, the Lakers simply perform better.

Of course these stats don’t tell the entire story, but they do pretty much verify what our eyes tell us. One of the major keys to the Lakers’ success this season is that their bench consistently outperforms their opponents’ on a nightly basis. Farmar may not be the flashiest player on that unit and may not have the name recognition around the league as an important player, but he is the driver behind its success. A big night from Nick Young or a highlight drive and dunk from Xavier Henry may get the air time, but it is Farmar’s ability to score from all over the floor combined with an improved ability to set up his teammates for easy shots that sustain the offense when he’s on the floor. Add that to his improved (at least since his last stint with the Lakers) defense and it’s not a stretch to say the team just lost one of its best players.

Strictly speaking from a statistical and production standpoint, replacing Farmar is near impossible. Scanning the roster, however, makes doing so even harder. You see, besides Steve Blake and Steve Nash, Farmar is the only other true point guard on the roster. In the 2nd half against the Blazers, the Lakers went on a run using a backcourt of Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry to good success, but down the stretch both made questionable plays against a dialed in defense who forced them to initiate and execute the offense. Moving forward, those two may be able to provide spot minutes as ball handlers, but neither are an actual solution as a point guard for any extended period of time, and especially not for 4 weeks.

If there is any good news to be had at this point it is that both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are likely to test their injuries this week in practice, potentially even returning to the lineup soon if things go well. The Lakers don’t play again until this Friday and that should give both the Lakers’ graybeards a good streak of practices to really see if they’re ready to lace up their sneakers and see some game action. Historically, both Kobe and Nash thrive with the ball in their hands and both have proven more than capable of steering an offense in a positive direction. Whether or not they are still able to do so coming off their respective injuries is another question that can’t be answered right now, but, at least in Nash’s case, it’s easy to have doubts. (In terms of Kobe, I have neither doubts nor expectations. What I have is a curiosity to see what he can do. As, I think, does everyone else.)

The flip-side to the potential returns of Kobe and Nash is that the team seems to be in a position where they now desperately need production from them sooner rather than later. For me, at least, the hope was that both could be eased back into the lineup in a way where they were only asked to provide what they were capable of. Now, however, there is more of an impetus for them to perform to a standard that that they may not be capable of reaching right away. Farmar provided a buffer between hoped for production and actual production. With him out, those two potentially return to a lineup in which the need for them just went up. That’s not exactly the best formula considering all the question marks both face. And that’s if they even come back soon — which still isn’t exactly a guarantee.

In summary, what was already a difficult season with real obstacles to overcome just got harder with Farmar going down with injury. How much more this team can take of having their best players on the sideline is not clear, but it looks like we are about to find out.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com and 82games.com