The Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were on their way to their third consecutive win without LeBron James on Saturday. Up 18 at the half against the Houston Rockets on the road, everything was going their way. Then Lonzo Ball hit the floor.
From the floor, he went to a wheelchair, then to the locker room, then to a local hospital because the X-ray machine at the Toyota Center wasn’t working.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were struggling to maintain the momentum they had before Ball went down, and Brandon Ingram said he felt that Ball’s injury ultimately cost them the game (via Spectrum Sportsnet):
“Right when Lonzo went down, I think that’s exactly when it went away. I think we lost momentum a little bit and we got away from what we were doing a little bit.”
And to their credit, the Lakers did stay competitive up until the final whistle. In fact, the Rockets didn’t take their first lead until overtime, and it was only because they won the tip-off.
But it’s hard to win a game without a single point guard on the floor, especially one as impactful as Ball is:
“Pushing our pace. Being our point guard,” Ingram said. “He’s the head of our team and what we do. He gets everybody in their sets, he gets downhill. He’s got a really, really good IQ to where he knows where everyone is on the basketball floor.”
Kyle Kuzma agreed:
“He kind of just really set the tone. Lonzo did a good job of playing defense on Harden, getting out and running in transition, finding me and it obviously helped.”
The worst thing about Ball’s injury, though, was the timing. Injuries are always unfortunate, but this one stung a little more because in Ingram’s mind, Ball was “absolutely” playing some of the basketball of his career:
“I think in these last four games he’s been very consistent in what he does. He has the energy, it starts from him picking up 94-feet and him pushing the pace in transition and it goes from there.”
Luckily, Ball’s injury wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked, as his X-rays reportedly came back negative. Still, there’s a good chance he misses at least a few games, most notably Monday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Kuzma said that adding Ball to an injury report that already includes James and Rajon Rondo would be a tough blow to the team.
“Hopefully he gets back healthy really soon because we’re down our top-three playmakers, and it’s tough enough to win.”
Ball is expected to be re-evaluated on Sunday. We’ll have a better idea of just how long he’ll be out then.