Once morning shootaround ended on Sunday, Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell walked off the practice floor at a normal pace. It became notable simply because he played only eight minutes in Friday’s loss against Oklahoma City before the Lakers decided to sit him.
All of which made Lakers coach Byron Scott optimistic about Russell’s playing status for when the Lakers (8-30) host the Utah Jazz (16-20) on Sunday at Staples Center.
“I think he’s okay,” Scott said.
Moments later, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti informed Scott that Russell had experienced more discomfort in his right ankle and will not play against the Jazz. It has become a dicey situation for Russell, who landed awkwardly on his right ankle late in Thursday’s loss in Sacramento where he posted a career-high 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting and four assists in 29 minutes off the bench.
But Scott has openly gushed about Russell’s efforts to stay on the floor. He played for about an extra minute in Sacramento before leaving for the locker room. He completed a series of cutting drills before lasting only eight minutes against Oklahoma City. Russell completed Sunday’s morning shootaround, though there weren’t any strenuous cutting drills that tested his ankle.
“It showed me a lot of heart and toughness for a young kid,” Scott said. “I was very impressed. I was proud of him to just try it. It bodes well for him and for his teammates. They knew he had an ankle sprain, but he came out and gave it a go. At the end of the day, he couldn’t go. But the fact that he tried is big.”
The Lakers are also monitoring other injuries.
Scott described Kobe Bryant as “fine” and will play on Sunday against Utah despite nursing recent soreness in his right shoulder that kept him out for three games last week. Scott sounded less certain about Lakers forward Brandon Bass, who is considered doubtful after he was diagnosed with a corneal abrasion in his right eye after it was poked in Friday’s game against the Thunder.
“He didn’t look good this morning,” Scott said of Bass, who plays to see more doctors on Sunday afternoon. “He seems sensitive to light.”