The Lakers have been hit hard by the injury bug lately, missing starters Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Brandon Ingram for stretches over the last several games. It has not impacted their ability to get some needed wins, mostly on the back of Jordan Clarkson (who has been playing fantastic) and, vs. the Knicks, Julius Randle.
The team got some good news on the injury front, though, in advance of Tuesday’s game vs. the Celtics:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Ingram are probable tonight.
Lonzo Ball remains out.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 23, 2018
Lonzo being out hurts no doubt, but if Alex Caruso can continue to be aggressive and run some competent point guard some of that is diminished. That may be a lot to ask of a rookie guard on a 2-way contract against the league’s best defense, but no one ever said playing the league was easy. I’t would also help if Tyler Ennis played anything like he did last season, but….next topic!
Regarding KCP, getting him back should really help in this specific matchup. While I don’t expect him to be at full speed nor to contain Kyrie Irving in isolation (no one does), having him chase Kyrie (and the other C’s wings) off the myriad of off-ball screens and hand-off actions used by Boston will be helpful. KCP excels in “lock and trail” technique as a defender and his anticipation in the passing lanes can be of real use against what Brad Stevens likes to run in the half court.
As for Ingram, even though he played vs. the Knicks, his minutes were limited and he didn’t look exactly like his regular self. I hope to see him take another step forward this game, especially since he’ll be playing against the player selected right after him in his draft (Jaylen Brown) and against the super SF who came after him at Duke (Jason Tatum). Ingram has seemed to take matchups like these personal this season (Ben Simmons, Durant) and I think he’d like to have a little extra pep in his step, but we’ll see if his body allows.
Anyways, it’s good to see the Lakers are getting back closer to full strength. The hope is that Lonzo will be back soon as well, and that will be just in time with the team heading back out on the road in a few days.