The Lakers hoped they had hit rock bottom after tying a franchise record for most consecutive losses. But it appears there’s still some room for the Lakers to fall.
They will play without rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. for at least the next five games because of continued soreness in his right knee, starting when the Lakers (9-41) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (14-35) on Tuesday at Staples Center. Although Nance Jr. could return as soon as NBA All-Star weekend ends on Feb. 12-14, the Lakers could wait longer.
“We’re trying to get him not only pain free. We’re trying to get that knee back strong again,” Scott said. “It might take 15, 16 days or it might take three weeks. But whatever it takes, we’re going to wait until he’s back healthy.”
Nance Jr. had missed four games last week because of his latest injury. More pain emerged while playing in the next three contests before sitting out of Sunday’s game against Charlotte. Nance Jr. has said he still feel lingering pain after tearing the ACL in his right knee during his junior season at the University of Wyoming. He had not fully healed the surgically repaired knee so he could ensure playing his senior season with the Cowboys, preparing for the NBA Draft and competing for minutes his rookie season.
Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle will start in place of Nance Jr as he has done for the past eight games. During that stretch, Randle has averaged 13.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. But it remains unclear how Scott will adjust the back end of his rotation among Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black.
“I don’t know if you can replace Larry because he does a lot of little things that really don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Scott said. “We address the way we run our offense and how casual we are running it and how we don’t set screens for one another and, again, those are all things that we can control. But the energy thing, that’s that person, whoever that may be. That’s not a team thing. That’s an individual thing.”