Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. made his return to the court and starting lineup after missing several weeks with a broken hand, and while the team lost 120-115 to the L.A. Clippers on Monday night, he was ecstatic to be alongside his teammates.
“I felt great, conditioning was good, hand had zero issues. I was just happy to be out there with the guys,” Nance said. “I feel like for the past three weeks I’ve been dreaming of this. I missed it. I’m thrilled to be back. Even though it was a loss, there’s a silver lining. I’m just thankful to be back.”
Nance’s conditioning was good enough for him to play 30 minutes in his first game back in nearly one month. He stuffed the box score with nine points, eight rebounds and four steals, which in conjunction with his defense on Clippers star Blake Griffin led Lakers head coach Luke Walton say Nance was the team’s ‘best player’ in the disappointing loss.
Nance explained the task wasn’t easy.
“[Griffin] backing down, the guys provided great help, but his ability to shoot threes has added a different dimension to his game. He’s playing at a super high level,” Nance said.
Nance’s return to the starting lineup came at the expense of rookie forward Kyle Kuzma, no small source of controversy among the fan base due to how well Kuzma was playing since joining the Lakers’ starters.
Nance made it sound like Walton’s vote of confidence meant a lot, but that he wasn’t worried about the circumstances by which he received playing time. “I appreciate his confidence in me to play me right away. I just take it as an opportunity to better our team and help us win,” Nance said.
“I’ve said it repeatedly and I’m going to say it until I’m blue in the face, starting or coming off the bench, you’re going to get the same answer from me. I’m just happy to play.”
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