The Los Angeles secured a blowout win with their dominant 126-101 outing against the Brooklyn Nets in the fifth of their grueling seven-game road trip on Saturday night.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they managed to win by 25 with a shorth-anded squad at Frank Vogel’s disposal as LeBron James and Anthony Davis remained sidelined. The Lakers were also without key role players in Marc Gasol, Kyle Kuzma and Wesley Matthews, while the Nets were close to full strength sans James Harden.
The timing of the recent additions to the injury list was hardly ideal considering the Purple and Gold were already without their superstar duo. Fortunately, it appears this will not be the case for much longer.
Gasol has missed the last two games while dealing with some hamstring tightness since logging in 28 minutes during the win over the Toronto Raptors. Vogel says the veteran is still working his way back from the busy night.
“This is why he was out last game as well. He got really tight after the added minutes in the Toronto [Raptors] game after Trezz was ejected after playing only two minutes. Marc had an extended role and some tightness in it afterwards and it’s gotten a little more tight after the last couple days.”
Vogel added that Kuzma sitting out with a calf strain was a precautionary measure and the hope is he is able to return for Monday’s showdown against the New York Knicks.
“It’s mild, but it is concerning enough for the medical team to want to keep him out another game. We were hoping he was going to be ready for tonight but just needs a couple more days. Hopefully he plays in the New York game.”
Vogel’s comments certainly help to reassure that the injuries suffered by both players were never deemed to be too serious. While it remains to be seen when exactly Gasol will be back, having Kuzma return to the lineup will help provide a major boost for this undermanned squad at the moment.
Kuzma stepped up as a major facilitator on offense in the absence of James and Davis. Having five full days of rest leading up to the trip to Madison Square Garden should help pay some dividends for his potential return.
Although Gasol’s return to the starting lineup since being supplanted by Andre Drummond may have been temporary, he showed he is still capable of putting on a big performance when needed as evidenced by the win over Toronto.
James & Davis nearing returns
While getting Gasol and Kuzma back will be big for the Lakers in the short-term, their championship hopes still hinge on the health of James and Davis.
There was a positive update on both of those guys are well though as it was recently reported that James is expected back in three weeks, while Davis is a bit ahead of him at 10-14 days out. The Lakers likely won’t rush either of their stars back, but it is good to see that they are progressing well and a potential return is on the horizon.
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