The Los Angeles Lakers will still be without Lonzo Ball (left shoulder sprain) when they begin a five-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Kyle Kuzma (quad contusion) and Brook Lopez (right ankle sprain) are available.
Ball and Lopez were cleared to return to practice on Tuesday, and they participated in Wednesday’s shootaround, but the rookie point guard is dealing with residual swelling. “We’re obviously going to take our time with getting him back out there,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.
“Because he woke up a little sore, we’ve got a practice day tomorrow that we’ll get him into. As much as we want him on the court, we’ve got to be smart about when he comes back to play. We’re going to take our time and be patient with that.”
Entering Wednesday, Ball has missed five games since suffering a left shoulder sprain. The injury occurred Dec. 23 against the Portland Trail Blazers, when Ball was seen shaking his shoulder and subsequently taken to the locker room.
He returned and played through what the Lakers at the time called a left shoulder contusion.
Lopez has been out since suffering a right ankle sprain in the second quarter of a Dec. 18 game against the Golden State Warriors. An MRI the following day confirmed a moderate sprain of Lopez’s right ankle, and he was projected to be sidelined a minimum of three weeks.
“We’ve missed him since he’s been out,” Walton said. “He gives us more shooting, gives us veteran leadership, he’s a good body going against this Oklahoma City team that’s physical and No. 1 in the NBA in offensive rebounding.”
Lopez played in 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games on Tuesday, and though he isn’t feeling any effects of the sprained ankle, will be on a minutes restriction against the Thunder. Walton did not reveal whether or not Lopez will start.
Kuzma was kneed in the same quad he’s already dealing with a contusion in, and said on New Year’s Day he wasn’t certain if he’d manage to play against the Thunder. Kuzma has yet to miss any time since suffering the initial injury.
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