The Los Angeles Lakers have been particularly unlucky when it comes to players’ health this season, a problem further exacerbated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the NBA.
The Lakers approach the Sunday game against the Chicago Bulls with their injury report listing seven players as unavailable. Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Austin Reaves, Kent Bazemore, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn have all entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols — with Nunn also still dealing with a bone bruise in his right knee.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis has sprained the MCL in his left knee and will miss at least a next month in a further blow to the Lakers.
Trevor Ariza features as “questionable” on the report, but the Sunday game might still come too soon for the veteran forward to return from his ankle injury.
Head coach Frank Vogel won’t take charge of the Lakers against the Bulls either after he himself entered the protocols on Sunday morning. But before that, he emphasized the Lakers’ perseverance and said the team headed to Chicago to win.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Vogel said after Friday’s game. “You hope for the best for AD. You want him in there, he wants to be in there. You hate to see any of your guys suffer any injuries, but we always feel like we have enough to win.
“So we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves, we’re not looking for excuses and we’ve got to get out of that mindset going to Chicago.”
The Bulls are among the teams the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the most. Chicago’s two games have been postponed by the NBA after 10 players entered the league’s health and safety protocols
As of Sunday morning, Zach LaVine, Troy Brown Jr., Ayo Dosunmu and Alize Johnson had not tested out of the protocols in time to face the Lakers — but DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. had a chance to play.
Still, the Bulls’ list of absentees could change before the game just as the availability of the Lakers’ players. Vogel described the uncertainty that looms over every game due to COVID-19 as “craziness” but reiterated L.A. doesn’t want to use it as an excuse for any loss.
“It’s just craziness,” he said. “There’s chaos involved with like every few hours you’re hearing a new guy is out or in this case, a new guy is in that you thought was out. It’s just a crazy time, but we’re not letting it impact us in terms of trying to win games.
“Like I said, no excuses, man. We got enough to win a game tonight, we didn’t play well enough.”
Russell Westbrook trying to stay ‘focused’ on helping Lakers after testing out of protocols
Russell Westbrook rushed to Minneapolis after testing out of the health and safety protocols ahead of Friday’s 110-92 loss, making it just in time to play in the game.
Westbrook said he tries to stay healthy and “focused” despite the volatility with which the players’ statuses change.
“I think each individual handles it differently,” Westbrook said. “So you kind of have to ask everybody as an individual about the process.
“But just for me personally, I understand that things during times like this there may be guys are in and out, just try to make sure that I’m focused on what I’m able to do in the game for our team.”
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