SAN ANTONIO — Although he received medical clearance to appear tonight in Game 2 of their first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, it remains unclear if Lakers forward Jordan Hill will play.
“If some guy is not going well, it’ll be that,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “During the game, we’ll see. It won’t be a lot of minutes, but maybe some.”
Still, the fact that Hill will suit up tonight as the Lakers trail 1-0 to the Spurs reflects how the Lakers’ reserve forward defied expectations in his recovery from left hip surgery. After having surgery Jan. 23 on his left hip, the Lakers expected Hill to stay sidelined for at least six months. The Lakers had initially ruled Hill out of the first-round series since he had yet to complete both full court five-on five and contact drills.
Yet, there Hill sat by his locker before Game 2 with a wide smile.
“I didn’t want to rush it and tried not to think about it as much,” Hill said. “I kept rehabbing and getting better. I tried to think positively. I’m glad I did. Now I’m back.”
Not everything went smoothly.
Without any prompting, D’Antoni couldn’t resist referencing to Hill’s friend getting arrested by crashing his 2007 Bentley into his Marina del Rey apartment building while under the influence.
“His car got out of control a little bit,” D’Antoni quipped. “But other than that, he just recovered. Obviously whoever did the surgery did a good job. They’re good at recovering people. He’s been there every day, rehabbed it and did what he’s supposed to do.”
D’Antoni said he has participated in three-on-three drills in recent days and five-minutes bursts of full-court contact drills.
“I felt like I could’ve returned a while ago,” Hill said. “But I wanted to listen to the doctor, pay attention to my injury and do what I needed to do get back.”
The Lakers value Hill’s presence both for his scoring off hustle points and defense, averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes through 29 games. Lakers forward Metta World Peace also surprisingly returned two weeks ago after missing six games because of left knee surgery, an injury the team thought would keep him out for six weeks.
“I didn’t think he’d be back,” D’Antoni said. “I didn’t think Metta would be back. It’s encouraging.”
Still, Hill hasn’t played since injuring his hip Jan. 6 in a loss to Denver. Hence, Hill’s conditioning may prompt D’Antoni to think twice about playing him.
“When I get out there, I know I’m going to get a little winded,” Hill said. “Then the adrenaline will start flowing.”
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