The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the NBA has put many Christmas Day games in jeopardy, ruling out numerous stars of the teams scheduled to play on Dec. 25 — including the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Christmas Day morning, about 100 players remained in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Nearly half of them come from the teams featuring in the league’s marquee five-game lineup on Christmas Day.
The games will likely go ahead as planned. However, the list of notable absentees will include Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Kevin Durant, whose Brooklyn Nets will face L.A. at Crypto.com Arena.
Still, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook thinks COVID-19’s impact on Christmas games won’t diminish the NBA’s special day.
“No. Playing on Christmas is an honor, it’s a blessing,” Westbrook said.
“You get a chance to be able to spend time with your family, which is most important, and then go do something you love to do, and that’s play basketball.
“So regardless of who we’re playing, having an opportunity to play on Christmas is a blessing and honor to be able to do so.”
Westbrook entered the protocols himself after the 107-104 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
But he managed to return two negative tests within 24 hours shortly after, clearing him for an appearance in the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves two days later.
The Lakers-Nets clash and the matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks will likely end up as the two fixtures most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Each game could see about 15 players ruled out due to the virus.
L.A. will miss Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Austin Reaves, and Malik Monk, who remain in the NBA’s protocols.
However, the Lakers will have Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson in their ranks, who recently penned 10-day contracts with the team.
Dwight Howard felt ‘tired’ after testing out of COVID-19 protocols
Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker tested out of the health and safety protocols earlier this week after spending about a week on the sidelines due to COVID-19.
However, Howard didn’t play in the 108-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns despite being cleared to play. He only returned to action two days later, starting in the loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The center then admitted he felt “tired” upon his return.
“Sitting out and not being able to train or do nothing for that period of time and then trying to come back and play, tried to play as hard as I could, but I was extremely exhausted,” Howard said after the clash with the Spurs.
“Give credit to the Spurs; they came in and had a good game plan, they stuck with it the whole night. Guys made some big shots, and Diop, he didn’t miss except two free throws. Other than that, he played an amazing game.”
However, Howard clarified his conditioning mainly suffered because he couldn’t train while in isolation, not due to the virus itself.