Albeit in a short stint, Damian Jones had an effective debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night in the win over the Golden State Warriors. With L.A. sporting a 30-point lead midway through the third, Jones checked in and made an immediate impact with his size and athleticism.
The young big man had eight points on 3-of-3 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two blocks, doing it all in just eight minutes of play. While many assumed he would play a majority of the fourth-quarter garbage time minutes, Jones checked out of the game and went straight to the locker room.
After the game, it was revealed that he suffered a low back strain and would be considered day-to-day. Jones gave an update on his status though and it doesn’t look too serious.
“it’s just some stiffness right now. I feel like it will be good in a couple days. It’s nothing too major,” Jones said.
While Jones has just two games left before the All-Star break and the subsequent expiration of his 10-day contract, he had some insight into what that has been like for him in the first few days, and some thoughts on his debut performance.
“Everybody has been talking, telling me different ways I can help impact the team. The situation, of course it’s pressure, but got to live up to the moment and perform your best. Know what you can do and go out and perform.
“It felt pretty good. I’m trying to get accustomed to the system, I watched a lot of film of how I’m supposed to play, and it felt really good to really help out.”
The stat that stuck out the most for Jones was his two blocks, something L.A. has been desperately missing. “It’s kind of one of the reasons why they signed me to the 10-day. I’m trying to provide that rim protection and create that vertical space in the offense.”
The Lakers will now face the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings in a back-to-back before the All-Star break. That should allow Jones two more chances to show why he is deserving of either another 10-day or a rest-of-season contract.
If he’s healthy, it’s possible he gets some extended minutes on at least one of the two nights given the age of Marc Gasol and the potential need to rest him.
Lakers trying to lighten load for LeBron James
Another potential reason for the Jones signing prior to the All-Star break was to give some younger, fresher legs a chance to play while giving the older players some rest. Frank Vogel specifically wanted to lighten the load for LeBron James.
“I think in both of these two games [win over Portland and loss to Washington], that’s something we’re trying to get accomplished where ‘Bron doesn’t have to do as much within his minutes,” he said.
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