Right before halftime of the Lakers loss to the Blazers, Lonzo Ball got tangled up with Portland big man Jusuf Nurkic and grabbed his left shoulder in obvious pain. Ball left the game immediately and headed straight to the locker room for further examination.
Ball came back to play the rest of the game, so the thought was that he was fine. Turns out, that was wrong. Per a team press release, Ball had an MRI on his shoulder Sunday and it revealed a sprain. He will be reevaluated in a week and will miss Monday’s Christmas Day game against the Timberwolves.
Ball’s been playing better of late, so this is a bummer to have him out. For the month of December he’s shot 42% from the floor including 37.7% from behind the arc on 5 attempts a game. The long range shooting is especially important as it not only opens up the Lakers offense, but opens up Ball’s dribble penetration game. This has a domino effect on the everything the Lakers want to do in the half court, creating better spacing, opening up passing angles, and making defenses pay that try to back off in order to shut down Ball’s passing.
With Lonzo out, expect Alex Caruso and Tyler Ennis to earn more minutes at PG and, potentially, even having Jordan Clarkson and even Brandon Ingram take up more ball handling and offensive initiation responsibilities. I’m especially interested in seeing what Caruso can provide since his style of play most replicates how Lonzo plays.
That said, there’s really no replacing Lonzo. He’s the player the Lakers have built their fast paced attack off, the player who best organizes the team’s offense. The team can obviously still be very effective without him on the floor — bench lineups with Clarkson, Randle, and Kuzma have performed well this year.
They’ll surely get their chance to try to keep the team playing well while Lonzo is out.