The Los Angeles Lakers continue to be cautious in regards to rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and his return from a sprained MCL that cost him six weeks. Thus far, Ball has been on a minutes restriction and won’t play in back-to-backs.
Nonetheless, Ball has looked good in his two games back, with one contest off wedged between the two. He finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists in just 17 minutes in his first game back against the Dallas Mavericks.
On Monday against the Atlanta Hawks, Ball hit all four of his shots, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in only 24 minutes.
So far Lonzo’s knee has responded well to games and practices as he even had an impromptu dunk contest with Kyle Kuzma following Wednesday’s practice. Now, Ball is expected to start against the Miami Heat and see his minutes restriction increased, per Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
Lonzo Ball will return to the starting lineup tonight in Miami.
Injury to Josh Hart hastened the decision, but Lonzo’s minutes restriction was going up tonight anyway.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) March 1, 2018
The Lakers may have had plans to play Ball more minutes on Thursday anyway, but recent developments have made it more of a necessity.
The Lakers agreed to a buyout of veteran forward Corey Brewer, allowing him to find a team that could use him for a playoff run. Mere hours later, rookie Josh Hart suffered a fractured hand in practice that could keep him out for the remainder of the season.
As such, in addition to the minutes increase, Lonzo will likely remain in the starting lineup moving forward, and perhaps have any minutes restriction lifted in the near future.
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