The Lakers had an against-all-odds victory versus the Boston Celtics, winning on the road despite Anthony Davis and LeBron James being ruled out.
Despite the challenge of not having their two top players against the team with the best record in the NBA, Jarred Vanderbilt and the Lakers were in total control of the game. Then, late in the second quarter, Vanderbilt suffered a non-contact injury to his foot during the closing seconds of the first half.
Jarred Vanderbilt went straight back to the Lakers locker room before halftime with an apparent ankle injury.— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) February 2, 2024
Prayers up for Vando pic.twitter.com/PBsFlqqtAY
Vando did not return to action, putting a blemish on an otherwise stellar night for the Lakers in Boston. The small positive is the team confirmed that x-rays on his foot were negative.
Lakers say x-rays were negative for Jarred Vanderbilt— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 2, 2024
Vanderbilt has already missed a lot of action this season due to a left heel bursitis injury and even during his recent stint back, he was playing through pain while his minutes were slowly ramping up.
Another stretch with Vanderbilt out would be tough for the Lakers.
His 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists averages on the season don’t jump off the page. However, his impact is clear when you watch him play. He brings a level of defensive energy and intangibles that impact in quantifiable and unquantifiable ways. His effort, versatility and size are irreplaceable on the roster.
It’s not just his defensive prowess that impresses. Head coach Darvin Ham has also commended Vanderbilt’s ability to grab offensive rebounds and called it one of his superpowers. His absence during the early stretch of the year is another reason Ham stressed patience and waiting for this team to get healthy before judging it.
While those comments may have been overblown, Vanderbilt’s impact on winning basketball is not.
The good news is the x-rays were negative, so perhaps the injury isn’t as bad as it looked and the Lakers kept him out as more of a precaution than a precursor to him missing games.
Hopefully, he can return on Saturday when the Lakers face the Knicks. The Lakers have not been a complete team essentially the entire season and time is running out on this team getting a shot at going on a run with the roster relatively healthy.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.