With no one even close to him, Kent Bazemore stood at the top of the key, studying the defense and looking at how he could attack.
But before he could even shoot, dribble or drive past Clippers guard Darren Collison, Bazemore felt what he called “a little pop” in his right foot before falling to the floor. Bazemore recalled feeling a similar sensation when he fractured his left foot before his senior year at Old Dominion, an injury that ultimately required a permanent screw placed in his left foot.
Well before the Lakers’ 120-97 loss Sunday to the Clippers at a designated road game at Staples Center became official, Lakers teammates Robert Sacre and Jodie Meeks then helped Bazemore off the floor with 10:08 left in the second quarter. Shortly after, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti helped him to the locker room.
“I was like shocked,” Bazemore said. “Like, ‘Oh no, not again.’ So I just fell and cried a little bit.”
The worst-case scenario didn’t materialize. X-rays turned out negative. Bazemore will have an MRI on Monday. Should the test turn out clear, Bazemore plans to play the Lakers’ remaining five games. But how did such an injury occur in the first place?
“It was an overuse injury from playing six minutes to 35 minutes,” Bazemore said. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the penalty of working hard and playing a lot of minutes. It happens.”
The Lakers acquired Bazemore and seldom-used guard MarShon Brooks from Golden State for Steve Blake, a move the Lakers made both for cost-cutting purposes and to see if such young players could develop. Bazemore has averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28 minutes through 23 games with the Lakers, a sharp increase from the 2.3 points per average in 6.1 minutes through 44 contests this season with the Warriors.
Bazemore hardly provided much of an impact against the Clippers, finishing with two points on 1 of 3 shooting and four assists in 11 minutes. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has raved about the 24-year-old Bazemore, ranging from his energy, athleticism and eagerness to improve. Considering he’ll become a restricted free agent after making $762,195 this season, Bazemore doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
“I’m not in a position where I can afford to miss games,” Bazemore said. “My contract is up so I don’t have any room to be resting. I’ve played well since I’ve been here. But with me finishing out the season, I’ll play well to my advantage.”
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