“I’ve never broken a bone, but I thought that might have been it,” Ball told reporters at the Lakers’ practice on Saturday. “That’s never happened to me before. It was kind of a freaky play.
“I don’t know really what happened. It happened kind of fast. I just remember my leg kind of going like that and then felt a popping out. That’s what it was.”
If a broken bone is what Ball believed had happened, then it’s no wonder head coach Luke Walton said he thought Ball was “emotionally devastated” in the aftermath of the injury — an assessment Walton has since walked back. And when posed in comparison to the potential of Ball sustaining his first broken bone, the fact that he’s actually only projected to miss just around a month to month-and-a-half with a grade 3 ankle sprain isn’t as terrible.
“Hearing 4-6 [weeks] is not that bad,” Ball said, although he acknowledged that the injury was “bad timing” because of how well he was playing, controlling the tempo for the Lakers
“I feel like I was playing pretty good basketball, finding my rhythm,” Ball said.
He was. The Lakers are 5.1 points per 100 possessions better with Ball on the floor than when he sat since James went down, and other than during the minutes that Tyson Chandler is on the bench, the team is never worse than when Ball sits, getting outscored by 7.3 points per 100 possessions.
Some of that is noise from the team’s on-off net ratings getting nuked by the team’s loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday, but Ball not being on the floor was part of the reason that loss got so out of hand, and partially why the the Lakers haven’t won a game since he went down. The team needs Ball to hound opposing guards on defense, and it shows when he’s not on the floor.
But all that was known by anyone who has been watching the team this season. The more surprising development in Ball’s game over the last several weeks has been how much he’s slowed down and controlled pace for the Lakers, who have played nearly three less possessions per 48 minutes while Ball was on the floor than when he sat over that time, according NBA.com.
Ball was putting more of his fingerprints on an offense desperately searching for a good shot — or just someone who could create one for others — and he understands how much his absence hurts the Lakers right now while they’re also dealing with so many other injuries.
Ball says he’s working as hard as he can to get back on the floor soon. He told reporters he’s “rehabbing as much as (he) can” while also “icing all the time, elevating all the time” and “just trying to get back as fast as possible” for the Lakers.
“I feel alright,” Ball said. “No one wants to get hurt, especially at this time where I feel like I could help my team a lot. But it happens. It’s part of the game.
“Fortunately I don’t have to miss the whole year. I’ll be back and try to get back into the swing of things.”
All quotes transcribed via the Lakers’ official Twitter account. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.