The injury bug still won’t leave the Los Angeles Lakers alone. This time, it’s back up center Tarik Black who was bitten, turning his ankle in the third quarter against the Utah Jazz. According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Black had to go to the locker room for treatment:
Tarik Black appeared to turn his right ankle. Slow to get up, he did walk under his own power back to the locker room.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 6, 2016
Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters later confirmed that Black is indeed dealing with a sprained ankle, and will miss the remainder of the game:
Another Lakers injury to add to the list…Tarik Black sprained right ankle. Done for the night.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 6, 2016
Black’s is just one more in a long line of Lakers players to fall to an injury. D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Jose Calderon, and Nick Young are all also unavailable right now with injuries of their own, leaving Lakers coach Luke Walton with a bare-bones roster to choose from.
Against the Jazz, Walton was even forced to use 37-year-old Metta World Peace, who is closest to being a power forward currently, as the team’s starting shooting guard. While this was partly due to his desire to keep the bench intact, it is still indicative of just how thin the Lakers roster has quickly become.
After signing a new deal with the Lakers last summer, Black quickly solidified himself as the team’s clear-cut best option behind starter Timofey Mozgov. His energy and athleticism have been a major asset to the Lakers’ second unit, which has been the best in the league this season.
The Lakers next game is on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, and if Black is unable to play, that could lead to the Lakers using Thomas Robinson or possibly rookie Ivica Zubac off the bench. Walton would also likely lean on small-ball lineups more frequently with Julius Randle spending minutes at the five, though he is a bit too undersized to do that for an entire game.
For now, fans will have to hope that Tarik Black is ok and that this plague of injuries will let up sooner rather than later.