The Los Angeles Lakers welcomed back Brook Lopez on Wednesday night from a sprained ankle. While he was expected to be out at least three weeks, he came back in just two.
Lopez looked good in his return, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds in just 16 minutes. He made his first two shots, including one 3-pointer, but stats were the last thing on his mind after the game.
“I was just happy to be back out there with the guys battling. I definitely missed it. I love being out there with my teammates. I definitely treasure it,” Lopez said.
More importantly for Lopez is that he didn’t have trouble with his right ankle. “I felt good out there. I didn’t feel sore or feel any sort of discomfort,” he said. “I was comfortable out there, it felt normal.”
Unfortunately for Lopez his return was ruined by the Lakers’ overall performance. The team suffered its worse loss of the season, a 133-96 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers, who had become known for giving maximum effort all season, and making big runs despite big deficits, gave zero fight. It was a complete departure from their previous showings earlier this season.
“I think they just kind of hit us and we never really responded, honestly,” Lopez said following the loss. “We definitely have to get back to where we were before the last couple weeks, get back to the way we were playing.”
The Lakers have now lost eight straight games and 11 of their last 12. Throughout this slump the losses have gone from hard-fought and down to the wire, to blowouts that are decided well before the final horn.
This team is in danger of falling back into the same issues that plagued them a season ago and this is where the coaching staff and veterans like Lopez and Corey Brewer must step up to ensure it doesn’t happen.
There is still plenty of time for the Lakers to get back on track as the promising team they showed themselves to be.
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