With less than 10 games left in the 2022-23 season, the Los Angeles Lakers have no time to mess around given how tight the Play-In Tournament race is in the Western Conference.
Jarred Vanderbilt admitted that the Lakers are playing every game like it’s their last, and that kind of mentality is what’s been able to keep them in the running despite being without LeBron James.
At this point of the year, every player is dealing with something injury-wise and shouldn’t be considered 100 percent, but it was still a surprise when Los Angeles ruled out D’Angelo Russell for their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night due to hip soreness. Russell popped up on the injury report just hours before game time and was eventually ruled out.
Darvin Ham explained that he and the organization felt it best to sit him out despite the circumstances.
“He was evaluated today and has a little something going on with his hip so it’s best that we hold him out tonight,” Ham said before the game.
As for when the injury occurred, Ham believes it came against the Phoenix Suns though couldn’t completely confirm it. “I think it got aggravated last game. It’s not too serious but serious enough where he needs to manage it so we made the decision that he would be out.”
Ham added that Russell will be considered day-to-day and admitted the timing isn’t optimal with how well the team has looked recently.
“It’s unfortunate, no doubt. But it’s professional sports and it’s the reality of our business here in the NBA. You have to just manage it as best as you can in terms of rearranging your rotation but we have capable guys.”
Fortunately, Los Angeles was able to pick up the crucial win over Oklahoma City without Russell, but they still can’t afford for him to miss much time. While the Lakers have solid guard depth in Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, Malik Beasley and even Lonnie Walker IV, none of them are the same combination of playmaker and shooter that Russell is.
The guard will have a couple more days to heal up and his next opportunity to play will be on Sunday against a Chicago Bulls team that’s been playing better as of late.
D’Angelo Russell doesn’t feel L.A. is home yet due to impending free agency
It didn’t take long for the Lakers fanbase to embrace Russell again as he’s been a legitimate difference-maker since coming over during the trade deadline. While Los Angeles clearly loves having him in purple and gold, Russell admitted the city doesn’t feel like home yet because of his pending free agency.
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