Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball was back at practice on Thursday morning and participated in a full-contact practice for the first time since spraining his left shoulder on Dec. 23. Ball admitted his shoulder felt a little sore after taking quite a bit of contact at practice, but called the pain ‘manageable’ and hopes he’s cleared for Friday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton also said that Ball looked great at practice and that neither his ball handling nor his shooting seemed affected. “All positive signs,” Walton said.
A potential silver lining to Ball’s recent injury, which has had him sidelined for the past six games, is his vocal leadership.
“I think it got me more vocal, because that’s pretty much all I can contribute when I’m just watching so that definitely helped me out in that area,” Ball said.
Ball also said his teammates have been very receptive and encouraging towards his leadership, despite him being just 20 years old.
“They all tell me to speak up, and they all listen so that’s a good thing,” Ball said of his teammates. “They make it very easy.”
The Lakers have not won a game since Ball’s been sidelined and are currently on an eight-game losing streak, which was capped off by a 37-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Despite the visible disappointment and frustration after their worst loss of the season, Walton still isn’t worried about keeping players from getting discouraged.
“To me, it always comes back to hard work and honesty with what we’re doing. When you work hard and you have a group that is believing in themselves, it will fix itself. It is hard, it is frustrating,” Walton said.
“But until I come into practice and see our guys decided to stop working hard, that’s when I’ll be worried, and that’s not the case with us. Come in today, and it was as competitive as it’s been since day one, so we’ll be fine.”
The Lakers (11-26) play their second game of a five-game homestand on Friday night against the Hornets (14-23).
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