The Los Angeles Lakers center rotation got even thinner on Friday night when Thomas Bryant exited the game early due to a shoulder injury. Late in the fourth quarter, Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee attempted to block a Bryant layup attempt and hit his off arm, causing his shoulder to bend in an unnatural direction.
Bryant immediately left the game and would not return, potentially signaling that the injury could be a serious one and another detrimental blow to a rotation already missing Anthony Davis. The Lakers would have just Damian Jones and Wenyen Gabriel to turn to as centers.
However, further testing must have revealed that Bryant’s shoulder injury won’t cause him to miss any time as he is not on the injury report for Sunday’s Christmas Day game against the Dallas Mavericks.
This is excellent news given the way that Bryant has played in Davis’ absence. Including the game against the Denver Nuggets — when Davis suffered the stress injury in his foot — Bryant is averaging 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds on 58.5 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
The Lakers face the Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Hornets on their upcoming road trip. Outside of the Hornets, all of those teams have quality big men rotation that include All-Stars, young talent or defensive stalwarts so having Bryant in Davis’ absence will be big.
L.A. is giving up 124.6 points per game in the five games since Davis was injured.
LeBron James laments transition defense in loss to Hornets
Giving up 134 points is never a sign that a team played strong defense. But doing it to the lowly Hornets is truly difficult to get past, and several Lakers players offered criticisms post-game.
For LeBron James, transition defense was a main point of emphasis, as he felt the inability to match up in transition led to a majority of the Hornets’ offensive production.
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