Frank Vogel Still Unsure When Carmelo Anthony Will Return From Hamstring Strain But Believes Lakers Miss Him
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Veteran forward Carmelo Anthony has missed the Los Angeles Lakers’ last four games due to a hamstring strain. The original hope was for a quick return, but hamstring strains can be tricky, especially for older players.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have gone 1-3 in those four games. They’ve clearly missed Anthony’s scoring punch in second units, putting a heavier offensive reliance on Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, and Malik Monk. Getting him back would be one step towards getting their season back on track.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave an update on Anthony and his injury after Monday’s practice, not giving anything concrete in any direction.

“He’s working out as we speak. We won’t have a firm answer as to whether he’s available for the Jazz game or not, but it’s not out of the question that he plays in that game,” Vogel said.

If he is able to come back for the game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, that would still mean he missed nearly two weeks. Vogel wasn’t too surprised by this, however. “It’s a hamstring strain, so you know how soft tissue things are. They always feel good until they don’t. You ramp up your work and you evaluate how it feels the next day. If there’s soreness then you just give it more time.”

Vogel spoke about Anthony’s impact, matching what fans have been seeing in the past four games.

“For sure, we have missed Carmelo Anthony in the lineup. There’s no other way to put it than that. I definitely think those last two games could’ve been different, but we still got to win those games regardless of who’s in the lineup. But we’re definitely eager for him to get back.”

Vogel is right that the Lakers absolutely needed to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors even without Anthony. Losing a key bench player can be difficult, but it should not outweigh the presence of nearly everyone else on the roster, especially the stars at the top.

L.A. faces another tough task in the Jazz that — should they lose — could drop them to six games below .500. At this point in the season, they simply cannot afford to be in that kind of hole.

The hope is obviously to have Anthony back in the lineup when the Jazz come to Arena. However, if they don’t, it cannot affect them with a desperate need for a win.

Horton-Tucker, Johnson complement Lakers stars

With Anthony out of the lineup, the Lakers have gotten some extra chances to see younger players like Stanley Johnson and Horton-Tucker play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. What Vogel has figured out is that those young players are excellent fits alongside their superstars.

“We need their young legs,” Vogel said at a recent practice. “That energy that they bring to the table on our group is a compliment to our vets. We need those guys playing with the energy that they’re playing with and the confidence that they’re playing with.”

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