After receiving only eight minutes of burn in L.A.’s Game 3 loss at Utah, Luke Walton was critical to L.A.’s success in Game 4, sparking a 20-2 second quarter run with a three-pointer and collecting two key third quarter steals that helped push the Lakers to a 20-point advantage.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Walton also sprained his ankle in that third quarter, and found out this news on Monday, as stated by L.A.’s PR department:
Lakers forward Luke Walton, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Saturday night’s Game 3 at Utah, had an MRI exam this morning. Results of the test show a partial tear of the deltoid ligament.
Walton will be out indefinitely and his status will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.
What does this mean for the Lakers?
Phil Jackson said that both Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom would see time on the wing in Walton’s place, which signifies that Sasha Vujacic in particular will see more time at guard. Furthermore, Andrew Bynum may be needed to play more than the 14 combined minutes he played in games three and four, and would probably start if Utah doesn’t play center Mehmet Okur, who was ineffective in 13 minutes in L.A.’s 108-94 Game 4 win.
If Walton’s is the bad news for L.A., the good is that starting small forward Trevor Ariza – who also tweaked his ankle on Saturday – is expected to play. Ariza told Jackson he was fine while taking shots alongside teammates at Monday’s shootaround, and is listed as “probable.”