Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma suffered a sprain of the fifth metacarpal phalangeal joint in his left hand against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 114-90 road loss Wednesday evening.
Kuzma had scored seven points, to go with one rebound, two assists and one steal before he left the game for good in the fourth quarter. The Lakers went into the night already playing shorthanded, as Lonzo Ball missed a second-straight game with a sprained knee.
Brandon Ingram did return from a sprained ankle, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t play in the second half after suffering an Achilles tendon strain.
Losing Kuzma further handicaps an injury-riddled roster, but fortunately for the Lakers, Kuzma doesn’t believe he will miss time, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
Kyle Kuzma thinks he’ll be OK with the hand injury. It’s sore, but on his left (non-shooting) hand. He’s hopeful he can play on Friday.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 18, 2018
Kuzma might just be a rookie, but he’s already leading the Lakers in scoring with 16.5 points per game and is also their second-best floor spacer while shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range.
However, while losing Kuzma would be a blow to the Lakers’ chances to win in the short-term, the team also has to keep their long-term plans for Kuzma, who has previously dealt with a quad injury and back spasms at various points earlier this year.
Just as they did with Lonzo Ball, the Lakers will likely use caution with Kuzma if there is any chance he can make the injury worse by playing through it on Friday night.
Should Kuzma sit out when the Lakers take on the Indiana Pacers, both Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle might see an increase in minutes, while Josh Hart and Corey Brewer might fill in for whatever minutes Kuzma would miss at small forward.
Happily for the Lakers, Kuzma makes it sound like such adjustments to their normal rotation won’t be necessary if his recovery over the next two days goes according to plan.
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