CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After missing two games with a bruised tailbone injury, Lonnie Walker IV is another Laker besides Anthony Davis who is facing a somewhat uncertain timeline to return to the lineup.
The Lakers ruled out Walker for the second straight game on Monday afternoon, with Ham citing a “real bad fall” the guard had in Orlando. Walker played through pain against the Miami Heat, shooting 0 for 4. Since then, he’s been spotted around the team doing a lot of treatment and using ice.
“Once we get back to L.A., we’ll get him with our doctors and see exactly what’s going on back there,” Ham said. “But a fall like that, it’s not good, ever.”
Walker is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging a career-high 14.7 points on 38.4% 3-point shooting. With Walker unavailable, the Lakers started Troy Brown Jr., who has been in a shooting groove: He went 13 for 24 from 3-point range on the five-game trip, and Ham gave him the nod in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game to play a defensive role.
The Lakers were plus-44 in Brown’s 116 minutes over the last five games.
“I’ve told him anytime someone closes out on you with their hands down, that’s a green light for you to shoot it,” Ham said. “And with his size and his ability to get it off, I welcome those shots. He has the green light from me all day every day, twice on Sunday. He’s in a rhythm, and you see the type of impact he can have from that distance.”
The Lakers didn’t have much information on Russell Westbrook’s left foot soreness as of Monday night. The 34-year-old missed games against Phoenix and Sacramento last month with the injury.
LEBRON, NBA COMMUNITY SHAKEN BY HAMLIN INJURY
Concurrently with the Lakers’ game on Monday night, the NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills was brought to a shocking halt when Damar Hamlin, a Bills defensive back, was involved in an on-field collision with Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins, rose to his feet, then collapsed again suddenly. Hamlin required CPR on the field, and an ambulance took him to a Cincinnati hospital where media reports said he remained in critical condition.
The game was suspended, and sports figures across the NBA shared their thoughts and prayers. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, who scored a season-high 71 points in Cleveland on Monday, ended his press conference by saying the Cavaliers were thinking of Hamlin. Players such as Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul tweeted in support of Hamlin.
LeBron James, an avid NFL fan, was asked about Hamlin on Monday night. He and the Lakers were able to watch the play in the locker room after the fact. James said his thoughts and prayers went to Hamlin, and called the NFL’s decision to end the game in the first quarter “the right decision.”
“The safety of players in all sports is always the most important,” he said. “It was a terrible thing to see. And I wish nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, for the franchise of the Bills and for the rest of the NFL too and the Bengals, who were also there playing in that game. I’m a huge fan of the NFL, I’m a huge fan of football. You never want to see anything like that happen.”