Good news for the Lakers: Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni expressed some optimism both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash could return Jan. 28 against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center after nursing respective knee and back injuries.
Bad news for the Lakers: the team still has to go through a rigorous seven-game, 12-day trip before the Lakers field a Hall of Fame caliber backcourt. Both Bryant and Nash will then be evaluated on Jan. 27 with the hopes for them to suit up right away.
“Hopefully both of them are ready,” D’Antoni said.
The Lakers (14-22) enter tonight’s game against the Clippers (25-13) in a designated road game tonight at Staples Center fielding way too many injuries to count. Beyond Bryant’s fractured left knee and Nash’s nerve issues in his back, the Lakers also have ailments to monitor in Steve Blake (hyperextended right elbow), Jordan Farmar (torn left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (bone bruise in right knee).
Henry is the most likely to return first. D’Antoni said Henry plans to get reevaluated Monday “depending on if there’s pain or not.”
“If we’re lucky, we’ll see. He could start playing,” D’Antoni said, eyeing when the Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers Jan. 14, a day before their Grammy trip begins. D’Antoni penciled in Farmar returning in February “sometime” after tearing a second part of his hamstring about a 1 1/2 ago. D’Antoni also suggested Blake’s return will happen after Bryant and Nash return.
“He has to have rehabilitation on his arm and strengthening stuff after he gets clear,” D’Antoni said. “He could be further out.”
The Lakers aren’t the only ones with too many injuries to monitor.
There’s been a flood of injuries around the league, ranging from the Clippers’ Chris Paul (right shoulder sprain), Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (surgically repaired right knee), Chicagos’ Derrick Rose (meniscus tear in right knee), Atlanta’s Al Horford (right pectoral muscle tear), Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe (surgically repaired right knee) and New Orleans’s Jrue Holiday (right ankle)
“I’m sure it’s tough. We think a lot of the injuries, we had them all the time except for MRI’s you diagnose them better,” said D’Antoni, reflecting on his playing career in Italy. “You played with them and you didn’t know you had them. But now you’re out four weeks. It’s btter for the player’s careers and for their health in the long run. But I don’t know if it’s changed or not.”
“That’s the one good thing. It can’t happen to us again. They’re all out. We’re good.”
Did D’Antoni and others simply use beer and cigarettes as remedies?
“I don’t drink and smoke, but I don’t know. But I’m thinking about starting, especially the drinking part,” D’Antoni joked. “Before you taped them up to play. If you took a painkiller, you’d be fine. That wasn’t the right way to do it. Now we do it the right way.”
What was the hardest injury D’Antoni had?
“I had so many injuries, it’s not even funny,” D’Antoni said. “I’m old.”
So are the Lakers.
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