Lakers hopeful for Avery Bradley return, doubtful for Rajon Rondo

first_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers EL SEGUNDO — In between “probable,” “questionable,” and “doubtful” is a world of nuance – at least that’s how Avery Bradley sees it.Technically, he’s “questionable” for Friday’s game against the Miami Heat thanks to his lower right leg bruise. But like any glass-half-full-type person, he visualizes that status with a sense of optimism.“It’s probably a little more on the positive side,” he said. “But as of right now I’m just gonna come in tomorrow, see how I feel in the morning and then hopefully I’m feeling well enough to play.”The season inevitably brings knicks and bruises, and the NBA-leading Lakers (6-1) are no different. They’re hopeful Bradley comes back soon after their ace on-ball defender was hit by Dejounte Murray’s knee as both tumbled to the floor in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in San Antonio. “Whether it’s off days in practice or minimize his minutes, minimize his load,” Vogel said. “There’s some things built in, scheme-wise that require him to do – to pass some guys off at certain times.”Third-year forward Kyle Kuzma is still dealing with his own health issues: The stress reaction in his foot still has him listed as “probable” for Friday’s game. While he said his conditioning has come back at last, he’s still working on getting the lift he wants on his shots – his leg strength is still coming back, and as a result, some of his 3-point attempts have been short.If everyone can get healthy, it eases the burdens for every player, including James. Reflecting on Tuesday’s win in Chicago, Kuzma said he’s hopeful that he can start producing to the level where both Davis and James can get time on the bench together and the Lakers aren’t so reliant on their minutes.That would also give him a chance to shine as a primary scorer, he said.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I think it would be huge for me just for the simple fact of me developing as a player,” he said. “Being able to hone my skills and be able to kind of transition from off-ball guy to really making plays. Come off pin-downs and being that primary scoring option. And plus, if I have it going like that, obviously A.D., Bron, they get necessary breaks that they kind of need throughout the entire season, which could be valuable for us in the playoff hunt.”LONG-RANGE SHOOTING SLUMP?For a team that touted how it added shooting during the offseason, it’s been a sluggish start from the perimeter: The Lakers are shooting just 31.7 percent from the 3-point arc, which ranks 26th in the NBA.Six straight wins doesn’t lead to a lot of soul-searching, but it’s still a key area the team knows it needs to tighten up. According to NBA tracking data, the Lakers are goofing on open shots: They hit only 31.9 percent when a defender is four feet or further away, which is defined as an open or wide-open shot.Kuzma said, in general, it takes some time for a team’s shooters to settle down, particularly given how wide open they can get while playing alongside James.“Everybody’s not shooting like they would in February or January, but you know I think those are gonna come as we continue to get high-quality shots,” he said. “And we’re doing a great job of making the extra pass and getting open threes. It’s all about really making ’em.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBradley said Murray’s knee hit him right on the bone, enough that he felt nervous as he got examined.“When I went back into the game and couldn’t move I was scared for a second, but once we got the results back and the X-ray, I felt good about the (medical) team that we have to hurry up and get me back on the court,” he said. “We were targeting tomorrow, and I feel confident that I’ll be able to go out there and play at a high level tomorrow.”Bradley was one of a few Lakers who sat out the final contact portion of practice on Thursday. The Lakers sat some players who have been nursing injuries, like Rajon Rondo who is officially doubtful for Friday’s game, but also healthy players like LeBron James, who only missed the last 10 minutes of live work.The Clippers’ management of Kawhi Leonard (who officially is dealing with a knee injury) has created a louder dialogue throughout the NBA about how teams manage their stars. The Lakers, too, are conscious of putting too much on their stars’ shoulders, but so far they’ve reduced what they’ve had to do in practice or minutes restrictions rather than sit them in full games.Coach Frank Vogel acknowledged it will be incumbent upon him particularly to keep an eye on James, who turns 35 next month.last_img

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