The Lakers have had their fair share of injury misfortune in recent seasons, but it’s never hit as fast, or perhaps as quickly, as it did this season.
Jarred Vanderbilt and Jalen Hood-Schifino have been out since midway through the preseason, so their absences on Wednesday were nothing unexpected. But after being full strength on Sunday vs. the Kings, the hits came over the ensuing days and, by tip-off on Wednesday, the Lakers were down to eight rotation players.
Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent were both ruled out before the game. But it wasn’t until moments before tip-off that Taurean Prince joined them. While the Lakers came away victorious vs. the Clippers despite being shorthanded, it obviously isn’t sustainable long-term to have a roster down so many bodies.
Both before and after Wednesday’s game, head coach Darvin Ham provided updates on those injured.
The last of the game's scratches, Ham spoke postgame about Prince and why he didn’t take the court.
“It’s more precautionary,” Ham said. “He wasn’t feeling right so we didn’t roll him out there. We listen to our players, get with our medical staff and performance team and try to make the best decision possible in the best interest of our players.”
Prince wasn’t officially ruled out of the game until halftime, which might suggest the injury isn’t serious. The extra day off until Saturday’s contest against the Magic might be extra helpful in his recovery, as well as everyone’s.
Vincent was the other player who was new on the injury report in this game. After starting the day listed as doubtful, Vincent was downgraded to out well before tip-off.
“Something that happened after the last game,” Ham said pregame. “Yesterday was a day off and just started to swell up on him a little bit he’s also being evaluated as we speak.”
There was no update on Vincent during or after the game. During the preseason, Vincent also missed time due to a back injury.
After missing Monday’s game against the Magic with what was called a left eye contusion, Hachimura moved into the league’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, which makes sense given the injury Ham described on Monday.
“He remains showing symptoms so he saw a specialist today along with our team doctors,” Ham said pregame on Wednesday. “(He’s) just working through it and, hopefully, just taking it one day at a time but he saw the specialist today and we’ll see what tomorrow looks like tomorrow.”
It was a bit of an odd journey of diagnosis for Hachimura. He was poked in the eye, but reported sensitivity to light. Ham was asked Wednesday why Hachimura wasn’t immediately examined for a concussion.
“Once he got poked in the eye,” Ham said, “he was really sensitive to light and then it seemed to being going in one direction and then some other things occurred some other symptoms, so just to be careful he went and saw the specialist along with our team doctors and that was the decision that was made.”
Being placed in the league’s concussion protocol means there are a number of benchmarks he’ll need to meet before returning, so it would be unlikely his return will be quick.
The last update given by Ham on Wednesday involved the player who has been out the longest in Vanderbilt. Ham noted that Vando has started some work, but right now it’s still in the early stages.
“Day by day, he’s getting stronger and stronger,” Ham said. “The discomfort is dissipating. But as of right now, he’s only doing stationery work.”
Vanderbilt is not set to be re-evaluated until next week. It’s encouraging, though, to hear positive updates at least.
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