The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a precarious position as they have a difficult upcoming schedule and are still without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
As things currently stand, the Lakers are clinging on to the fifth seed in the Western Conference, though the Portland Trail Blazers are not very far behind. The Dallas Mavericks are also looming and have the potential to move up the standings as their schedule the rest of the way is relatively soft.
Health is always a factor for teams, but its importance is amplified during a 2020-21 campaign that has been affected by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Lakers had several players in and out of the lineup due to various ailments and were recently dealt another blow after Kyle Kuzma was forced to miss their contest against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
Head coach Frank Vogel spoke pregame about Kuzma’s injury and why they decided to sit him. “Playing in the game the other night he actually asked to come out toward the end of the game because his calf was really tightening up on him,” Vogel explained. “Wanted to see how it responded overnight and with treatment. He still had significant soreness in there and we decided to keep him out.”
Vogel added that Kuzma had an MRI that revealed the severity of his injury. “He did have one this afternoon,” Vogel said. “Grade 1 calf strain.”
Kuzma has kept a positive mindset as the team suffers wave after wave of injuries, but the forward now finds himself on the shelf for the immediate future. The 25-year-old played 35 minutes against the Toronto Raptors, but apparently, the off day was not enough for him to recover and play against the Heat.
While Kuzma is not expected to miss much time, his absence forces yet another player to step up and play an extended role. Hopefully the rest of the roster is able to make due in the meantime, but it is concerning to see yet another player go down to an injury.
Matthews in line for larger role
With Kuzma out, Vogel turned to Wesley Matthews to start against Miami and the veteran had a solid shooting night as he scored 14 points and drained 3-of-7 of his 3-point attempts. Matthews has looked much better in recent weeks, shooting with confidence and playing his normal brand of hard-nosed defense. As long as Kuzma remains sidelined, Matthews should soak up more minutes.
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