Lakers remain winless without Lonzo Ball as rookie nurses knee sprain

first_imgMEMPHIS — When Lonzo Ball twisted his knee in overtime on Saturday, he thought little of it. The pain went away after the next play. The rest of the evening, he felt fine, too.“Then I woke up the next morning and could barely walk,” the rookie point guard said after sitting out the Lakers’ 123-114 loss to the Grizzlies on Monday at FedEx Forum.The Lakers are 0-7 this season when Ball does not play.Ball joined Brandon Ingram on the sidelines, and the Lakers showed just how important the pair of No. 2 overall picks are to their success on the floor. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersWhile Ingram was a game-time decision on Monday with a mild ankle sprain, Ball’s situation seems more serious. The Lakers will practice Tuesday in Oklahoma City before facing the Thunder the following night.Ball’s status is very much in question for that matchup. He said he was unsure if he would be able to test out the knee.“If it is like today,” he said, “probably not. But if it’s a little better when I wake up, then yeah.”Ball returned to the lineup on Jan. 5 after missing the previous six games with a sprained shoulder. The Lakers lost to Charlotte that night, but proceeded to reel off a season-best four straight wins.“It’s tough,” Ball said. “Obviously I want to play. Any chance I can, it’s my job, I love putting on a show for people, and it’s hard to sit back here and watch the game. Got to stay positive and try to get back as fast as I can.”center_img Ball said he suffered the injury in overtime in Dallas, on a late basket that helped the Lakers secure their fourth win in a row. He said he felt incrementally better on Monday than the day before.“It’s getting better,” he said. “Obviously still couldn’t play today. So just got to ramp up the treatment and get well soon.”FITS LIKE A GLOVEHe had not practiced and had only been briefed on the Lakers’ offense in the most general terms by South Bay Lakers coach Coby Karl. Still, with the Lakers trailing by 20 at the start of the fourth quarter, Lakers coach Luke Walton turned to Gary Payton II.Prior to the loss, Walton said it was possible he would play Payton, who signed a two-way contract with the Lakers on Monday morning, but that it would not be the ideal situation.“Defensively, we feel comfortable with what he can do out there for us,” Walton said, “but offensively, obviously never practicing and knowing the play calls and this and that would get a little complicated.”Indeed, the Lakers’ coach cast aside most of the playbook for Payton, as the team just ran repeated pick-and-rolls and tried to score in transition.“When we put him in, we were just looking for guys willing to fight,” Walton said. “I thought he did a good job even though he’s only been on the team for a few hours now. He did a good job of fighting and made some nice plays for us.”The son of former Lakers point guard and NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, the latest addition to the locker room seemed unfazed by the unique circumstances.“It’s a young team,” Payton said, “they like to run. That’s what I do best is play defense, run in transition and get buckets.”Payton appeared in 18 games over the past two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 2.8 points and 1.2 assists in 11.4 minutes per game.He arrived in Memphis on Monday morning, signed a contract that will allow him to split his time between the Lakers and their G-League affiliate, and within hours was on the court warming up with assistant coach Jud Buechler.Like his legendary father, who played for the Lakers in 2003-04, Payton is a point guard and hangs his hat on defense. That might be where the similarities end, though.“I don’t have the trash talk like he does,” Payton said, “but I can still get it going. We kind of have similar games, but I’m above the rim more than he was. So you can throw it up to me.”KING IN MEMPHISThe Lakers and Grizzlies were one of the games featured as part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day lineup.“It’s absolutely an honor to play on this holiday,” Walton said.He added that what separated King as a leader was “he emphasized doing it through a peaceful manner.”“All he wanted was what everyone should want,” Walton said, “that’s equality. You don’t see skin color, male, female, everyone has the same opportunities and the same rights and the same opportunities to really make something of themselves.“So to be able to play on this day, especially in a sport where you get so many people from different backgrounds and different places around the world is an honor.”The Lakers on Sunday afternoon visited the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968.last_img

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