Instead of dazzling on the court with crisp passes and timely shots, Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell spent Monday’s practice doing something else. He sat on a seat and watched the session, while having electronic stimulation attached to his sprained right ankle.
Russell said afterwards that he hopes to play when the Lakers (8-31) host the New Orleans Pelicans (11-25) on Tuesday at Staples Center. The Lakers are also listing him as probable after he missed Sunday’s loss to Utah, lasted only eight minutes in Friday’s game against Oklahoma City and left the end of Thursday’s loss in Sacramento.
“It hurt. I felt like I was rolling a little bit. I wanted to go,” Russell said. “I wouldn’t let anything come in between finishing that game. But I physically couldn’t do it. I felt it was smart not to.”
The Lakers are nursing physical limitations elsewhere as well.
They listed Kobe Bryant as questionable to play because of a strained right Achilles that required him to receive treatment on Monday. Bryant had surgery on his left Achilles tendon two years ago and has missed four games in the past month because of a sore right shoulder. Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott downplayed questions about Bryant’s durability in his 20th and final NBA season.
“Not too concerned about it right now,” Scott said. “He didn’t seem to be very concerned about it.”
Scott sounded more certain with Lakers forward Julius Randle, who is listed as probable to play after suffering a bone bruise in his right foot. Though Randle played in Sunday’s loss to Utah, he missed Monday’s practice for precautionary reasons.
“We felt it was unnecessary to put any pressure up on it going up and down the floor,” Scott said. “If we can get that thing to calm down, we’ll be okay. One of the things to calm it down was not put some undue pounding on it.”
Scott also sounded optimistic about Lakers forward Brandon Bass, who is listed as probable to play after missing Sunday’s game because of a being diagnosed with a corneal abrasion in his right eye after it was poked in Friday’s game against the Thunder. Bass’ vision improved enough to practice on Monday, something the Lakers had not originally planned.
“He said he could see,” Scott said, laughing. “That’s kind of a big deal in basketball to be able to see, especially out of both eyes.”
The Lakers also recalled Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly from the D-Fenders and will be available to play on Tuesday against New Orleans. But Scott would not commit yet toward playing the seldom-used forwards.
As for Russell, the Lakers are exercising caution with their 19-year-old rookie point guard. Instead of practicing him on Monday, Russell saw more doctors that confirmed with x-rays that his injury is nothing more than a sprained right ankle. Yet, the Lakers determined he still has trouble cutting and pushing off of his right ankle.
“He says he still has that pain in there. So you have to be very cautious with that and make sure he’s getting back to 100% as soon as possible,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It’s hard to get to 100% at this point in time of the season. We don’t want the young fella out there limping around. We have to get him to the point feeling comfortable running.”
Still, Scott and Bryant have praised Russell in recent days for at least trying.
“That’s something you always want, respect from your peers,” Russell said. “To have that respect is great. I just got to keep it.”