On Friday night at STAPLES Center, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-96, following an elaborate ceremony that revealed a statue in honor of Lakers’ legend Elgin Baylor. With Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and numerous other greats of Lakers’ past in attendance, the night featured star power off the court, even if the Lakers couldn’t keep their best players on the court.
Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball were in the building, but neither was available to play. With Jack Nicholson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among the courtside fans, Kyle Kuzma suffered a sprained left ankle after struggling through a left ankle sprain for the better part of the past month.
“It’s kind of hard to move around on two flat tires,” Kuzma would say after the game in reference to the two injured ankles.
But Kuzma isn’t the type of player to ask for out of a game, so when the second half started, Kuzma was back on the court. With the 22-year-old noticeably limping, Lakers coach Luke Walton sent Josh Hart to the scorers’ table to take out the visibly hobbled forward.
“The timeout happened and I had someone coming in for him, and as he walked by, he’s like, ‘Coach, you got to get me out,'” Walton shared his third quarter interaction with Kuzma. “Kuz plays through a lot. He wants to stay out on the floor, so he was struggling with it.”
Kuzma’s night was done, and the Lakers proceeded to wilt away without their best players available. LA went on to be outscored 62-38 in the second half after leading the Timberwolves by seven points in the first half intermission.
Kuzma’s absence didn’t help the cause, obviously, and the question of whether or not to shut down the former University of Utah Ute had to be asked. Kuzma said he didn’t have an answer to the question but made it clear that he had asked to keep playing through the first ankle injury suffered on Mar. 13 and also asked to keep playing at halftime of Friday night’s game.
“My body feels great,” Kuzma tried to be positive about potentially playing the final three games of the season. “At the end of the day, it’s just my ankles.”
Notes: X-rays on Kuzma’s ankle came back negative, and the forward is officially listed as day-to-day.
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