The man once defied gravity with his soaring jumps. He once exceeded expectations with a dependable mid-range jumper. But Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. has landed back down to earth because of a sore right knee. After missing the past two games because of that injury, Larry Nance Jr. will find out leading up to tipoff whether he will return when the Lakers (9-35) host the San Antonio Spurs (37-6) on Friday at Staples Center.
Nance Jr. participated in Friday’s morning shootaround and was seen taking jumpers. But Lakers coach Byron Scott described the session as “light.”
“If I leave it up to him, he’ll probably say, ‘Coach I’m good.’ But I’ll talk to Gary [Vitt],” said Scott, referring to the Lakers’ head athletic trainer. “I didn’t get a chance to see him get up and down the floor. I’ll talk to Gary and see how he feels and go from there.””
Nance Jr. played only three minutes in Saturday’s loss in Utah, but he and the Lakers reported he had felt some consistent albeit mild soreness in recent weeks. But the Lakers have since treated Nance Jr. conservatively.
The Lakers have liked Nance Jr’s energy, defense and shooting accuracy, which has contributed toward averaging 6.0 points on 54 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds. That explains why Scott remains reluctant to yank Nance Jr’s starting spot at power forward, which he played for 22 games before his injury. But Lakers forward Julius Randle will receive another nod to prove his worthiness as a starter, though that has proven a mixed bag. After posting 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s loss to Houston, Randle had six points on a 2-of-11 clip and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Sacramento.