While it was all good news heading into the night on the injury front for the Lakers, there was still one caveat. After not being listed on the report heading into the game, Rui Hachimura did not play for the Lakers and was not listed as inactive by the team prior to the contest against the Rockets.
Coming back from a nasal fracture, there was a fairly reasonable excuse for his absence. After the game, head coach Darvin Ham provided an update on his status.
“He went through his pregame workout and still a little iffy,” Ham said. “Obviously, our players’ health is a top priority for us. And the doctors did clear him, but still getting hit on the bridge of your nose and having to wear a mask again, he wasn’t with us for a week. He was limited on what he could do on the court and what not. So just coming off that nose surgery. So we felt it was best just to be proactive and be precautionary and so that’s where we landed.”
In essence, it sounds like the Lakers were using Hachimura as a “break in case of emergency” option, if even that. They wisely are prioritizing Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament game against the Suns and the prestige that comes with winning the NBA Cup.
Jokes aside, Hachimura may be medically cleared to play but there’s still a risk involved. Many players also struggle to play with a mask akin to what Rui will have once he does return to the court.
There also was a built-in window where the Lakers could hold Rui against the Rockets and give him a whole weekend plus effectively two more days before playing Tuesday night against Phoenix.
The one player still listed as out on the injury report, though, is Gabe Vincent. The guard is still dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out much of the year. While most of the injury news about the Lakers is good, the update on him isn’t quite so much.
“He’s been running on an alter-G,” Ham said pregame, “just some conditioning obviously in that regard. Some normal weight-lifting stuff, some getting shots, but that’s it.”
Vincent certainly doesn’t sound close to a return, but fortunately, the play of Max Christie on Saturday indicated he could be in line to hold down his fort and those minutes until he returns.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.