After missing six weeks due to an MCL sprain in his left knee, Lonzo Ball returned to the court Friday night in what was the Los Angeles Lakers’ first game out of the All-Star break. Ball conceded he’s not fully recovered from the injury but is healthy enough to play.
Because of the significant time missed, Lakers head coach Luke Walton brought the rookie point guard off the bench and had him under a minutes restriction in the return. Ball finished with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in 17 minutes of action.
Each of his three baskets came from behind the arc, where Ball shot 50 percent. Despite the encouraging performance and limited action, it had already been predetermined that Ball would not play Saturday in the second of a back-to-back.
Ball remains on track to return Monday against the Atlanta Hawks, and could see his minutes increased, according to team reporter Mike Trudell:
Luke Walton said Lonzo Ball’s knee responded well to his first game back. He just finished a workout and looked good. He’s out tonight as a precaution (back to back), but expect him to play at ATL on Monday. His minutes limit could be increased.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 25, 2018
Considering the success Brandon Ingram has had playing point guard, and the Lakers erring on the side of caution throughout Ball’s recovery process, it stands to reason he will again come off the bench.
That presumably will also give the Lakers another look at the pairing of Ball and Isaiah Thomas in their backcourt. It was successful against the Dallas Mavericks, which validated the confidence Ball, Thomas and Walton voiced in the duo before seeing it on the court.
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