As if losing at the hands of the player that rejected them in free agency wasn’t enough, the Los Angeles Lakers also added another key player to their injury report on Wednesday in Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma suffered a back contusion in the second quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and did not return. Following the game, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said that Kuzma tried to give it a go, but was unable to after the halftime break.
“He said he got hit somewhere during the game, something happened during the game,” Walton said. “You could notice he was starting to limp in those last couple of minutes he was playing, and he said he was fine but they worked on him at halftime and said they just said ‘no go.’”
According to Walton, Kuzma will receive an MRI Thursday morning and that more information will be provided then.
Kuzma joins Rajon Rondo (finger sprain) and LeBron James (groin strain) on the Lakers’ injury report, meaning the Lakers are now without their top-two leaders in both points and assists per game.
While it’s going to be hard for any team to win games without two or more of their key players, Tyson Chandler believes the Lakers are a deep enough team to where it shouldn’t affect them the way he felt it did against the Thunder.
“We’ve got so many young players that can step up and I think it’s an opportunity for them to learn,” Chandler said. “Did I think it affected us in this game? Absolutely. We’re already down guys, we’re already down a big chunk of our scoring and then to take one of the highlighted players off the court, it just makes things tough.”
Brandon Ingram shared a similar sentiment, saying the Lakers need to embrace the challenge of winning games with the players they have.
“It is a challenge, but I think it’s a challenge that we’re supposed to dive into,” Ingram said. “I think our main goal is to continue to get better and win basketball games so we’ve just got to be focused on every detail, and do what we need to do coming into our games. Just follow the game plan. When we follow the game plan, I think we have a good chance of winning these basketball games.”
The Lakers will have the opportunity to bounce back on Friday when they host the 9-29 New York Knicks at Staples Center. It will be tough to win without Kuzma — even against a lowly team like the Knicks — but they’ll have to find a way if he’s deemed unfit to play.