SAN ANTONIO — Along a hallway leading into the Lakers’ locker room, Jordan Clarkson walked gingerly while showing a pair of reporters photos of his recently sprained right ankle.
It looked swollen and crooked. That only tells half the story. Clarkson will sit out when the Lakers (3-19) play the San Antonio Spurs (18-5) on Friday at AT&T Center because of limited movement. So much that Lakers coach Byron Scott does not expect Clarkson to play on Saturday in Houston, either. Although Clarkson will wait to see how his right ankle feels on Saturday, it appears more likely he will return for Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee at Staples Center.
“It’s real sore when I’m cutting and trying to push off that leg,” said Clarkson, who has averaged 15.2 points on 47 percent shooting in 31.5 minutes per game. “But I don’t feel like it’s that serious. I’ll probably finish in a few days.”
Scott said he “knew it was a good chance he wouldn’t play” and called described Clarkson’s status as “50-50” following Wednesday’s morning shootaround. Clarkson acknowledged it “is definitely disappointing” to miss a game in his hometown, knowing that both family and friends from his alma mater at Wagner High School will attend.
“I don’t know if they’re coming to watch me tonight. They’re coming to watch Kobe [Bryant],” Clarkson joked. “I have a lot of friends and family here that were here to support me. It’’s cool they still come to support the team.”
Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell will start in Clarkson’s place, though it appears he will lose that spot as soon as Clarkson returns. Russell has come off the bench for the past two games, which included a recent a break-out game on Wednesday in Minnesota where he posted 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting and three assists in 32 minutes.
How does Russell build off of that?
“All the things he did last game in running the offense, taking the shots when he has them and being aggressive when he tries to get to the basket,” Scott said. “That’s the one thing we haven’t seen him do is attacking the rim. He’s getting comfortable in that phase of his game. The game is slowing down a little bit for him as well. He’s picked it up with his speed as far as pushing the ball.”
Should Russell do that, he could earn his starting job back. But Scott said he wants an extensive body of work first.
“I’ll take a week right now,” Scott said. “Let’s just start there.”