The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to find their groove after they extended their modest win streak with another overtime victory, this time against the Dallas Mavericks.
Although the Mavericks were without Luke Doncic, they gave the Lakers a tough fight and almost came out with the win had it not been for Los Angeles’ clutch 3-point shooting. Wayne Ellington drained a shot from the corner to force the extra period, while Austin Reaves capped off his best game as a pro with the game-winner as time nearly expired to give the Lakers the hard-earned win.
While the Lakers will surely be celebrating their performance, they were dealt several tough blows this week as Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk and Dwight Howard were all placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. All three are expected to miss several games, and it appears they are not the only ones.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Russell Westbrook is also entering the health and safety protocols:
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has entered into Covid protocols, sources tell @mcten and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 16, 2021
This is obviously unfortunate news for the Lakers as Westbrook has been playing his best basketball of the season in recent weeks.
After Westbrook said himself though, COVID is a bigger issue than basketball so hopefully he and his teammates are OK once they get through it.
“I’m more worried about the health of individuals,” Westbrook said after the win over the Mavericks. “Obviously, hoping that whoever has the virus or doesn’t you want to make sure they’re healthy and their health long-term is better for them. That’s the most important part.
“Basketball to me is not like it changes your life, your health is way more important than that. I pray whoever has it pray that they get through it and feel healthy and they don’t pass it on to anybody else or their close ones, their families, their kids so that everyone can stay healthy.”
Westbrook, Horton-Tucker, Monk and Howard will not be able to return until they are asymptomatic and turn in two negative PCR tests 24 hours apart, so hopefully their conditions improve in the coming days.
The recent spike in cases is alarming as numerous teams have had to place at least one player in protocols. The surge is expected given the cold weather and holiday gatherings, but it certainly feels like more cases will occur in the coming weeks as the NBA ramps up testing for all personnel regardless of vaccination status.
While the timing comes at an unfortunate time for the Lakers, the reality is the virus is something that is out of everyone’s control and the best thing for all personnel is to follow the current safety guidelines in place and listen to the league and health professionals over the coming weeks. Even though the league has done a decent job of trying to limit the damage, cases are still going to occur so trying to get ahead of it as best as possible will be primary focus for them and the teams for the near future.
Lakers trying to sign Isaiah Thomas to 10-day contract
In order to replace Westbrook and the other players in protocols, the Lakers are reportedly trying to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract via the NBA’s hardship exemption, although they will need approval from the league to do so.
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