LOS ANGELES – When Lonzo Ball first felt his shoulder pop, he didn’t have any sense he would miss at least a week of action. He thought ice would take care of the pain. After running into the locker room late in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Portland, Ball emerged to play 20 productive minutes in the second half.
It was the next morning that Ball went from merely being hurt to being injured.
“When I woke up it was pretty sore,” the Lakers’ rookie point guard said. “That’s when we got the MRI and then the results came back. So trying to stay positive and get back as fast as I can.”
Ball will be out with a left shoulder sprain at least until Dec. 31, when the Lakers face the Rockets in Houston. With Ball sidelined and Brandon Ingram out for the second straight game, the Lakers were down three of their usual starters. Center Brook Lopez is out until the middle of January due to a sprained ankle.
Even New Year’s Eve seems an optimistic timetable for Ball.
That’s the day Ball is set to be reevaluated and Coach Luke Walton typically wants players returning from injury to get in at least one full practice. That could push Ball’s return into the next week.
“There’s no target (date) at least from my standpoint,” Walton said. “The only thing that matters with him is getting him healthy. There’s no reason to try to target a date and get him back. Obviously we want him back as soon as possible but big picture and what he means to us. We need him to be healthy so once he’s back he stays back.”
The No. 2 pick in June’s draft, Ball averages 10 points, 7.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds. He is shooting 34.9 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from 3, but in recent weeks has seen those number climb upwards.
“We are going to miss everything,” Walton said. “His defensive instincts and the way he rebounds the ball and starts our break for us, his unselfish play, recently making the three-point shots he has been hitting.”